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The Observer is the Observed

Madras, India. Group Discussion 27th November, 1947

We have met in this group not for learning as in a classroom but to discuss with each other; and, in exchanging our thoughts, we begin to discover our own process of thinking. This is a self-revealing process, not of some metaphysical higher or superior self, but of the self which is working through you and me. Without self-knowledge which is being aware of our own actions and our own feelings, there can be no right thinking at all.

Self-knowledge as distinct from factual knowledge or the knowledge of a technique, is not a matter of learning from another; it can come about only through awareness. No understanding or comprehension can come when our relationship is that of the teacher and the taught, a Master and a Disciple, or a Guru and a 'Sishya'. Learning is not understanding; it is really destructive, whereas understanding is creative. Understanding comes only through communion, which is possible only when there is deep love.

These discussions are meant to establish that extraordinary depth of understanding in which right relationship with another can be established.

We have discussed various subjects, the various hindrances to clarity of thought, also other things like "fear", "death" and "love".

Our whole social, economic and psychological structure is based on the desire for profit and gain, on pleasure and pain; that which is pleasurable we accept and that which is not pleasurable we reject.

Our relationship has also a similar basis. I like you as long as you like me; and if you do not like me, I find someone else. Our so-called friendship is really mutual gratification. Our emotional structure is based on this.

You love Reality as long as it is pleasurable or profitable to you; when it is painful, you reject it and go to a guru or somebody else; and thus you go on seeking gratification.

As long as the mind is seeking pleasure and avoiding pain, there cannot be love. We misuse the word love when we call this love. We do not really know what love means.

Since we do not know what it is to think rightly, deeply and profoundly, our solutions, political or religious, are in no way going to produce a sane and balanced world. After all, the world is you and I; and it is no good trying to love each other when we do not know how to love.

It is no good discussing theoretically what love is. We can only start with what we know, i.e., by examining and becoming aware of "what is." What we call love is really based on the desire to please and to avoid pain. Actually, all our relationship is based on pleasure and gratification. Our desire for gratification pulls us along and pushes us also along into a mass of beliefs. From that relationship, we talk of having a duty, a responsibility, etc, which are all words having no significance, because they are merely based on gratification.

Some of you say that love gives you a sense of unity with another. Do you feel unity with the object you do not like? Obviously not. We give ourselves over to beauty and deny ugliness. That is, by the denial of vice, we become virtuous. We deny the non-pleasurable and hold on to the pleasurable. This self-immolation is an identification with what we call the beautiful, that which is intensely gratifying. We call that devotional love. Has that love any perfume or is it merely gratification?

You would not seek God if you do not want security, an ultimate permanency. In yourself you are insecure, the world around you is catastrophic, and you want an assurance of continuity; and, therefore, you want to identify yourself with what you call God. Therefore, you are not seeking God but only gratification. Gratification through God is just like gratification through drink though the one is a refined ideation, and the other a gross desire.

Similar is the man who identifies himself with an ideal like beauty and pursues it. As any ideal is only a creation of the mind, that too is impermanent, and that exists only as long as you find gratification in it and accept it. Thus, due to our inward poverty, we seek only gratification through things, relationship, and ideation such as God, ideal, etc; we do not seek God or an ideal as we drop them the moment we do not find pleasure in them.

There are however certain rare moments when the state of non-relationship exists in contra-distinction to relationship which exists only on the basis of pleasure and pain. But in that sense of complete self-immolation, there is no asking; in that state of non-relationship with another, when you love somebody, there is that quality of non-demand. At those moments, you are left silent; later on, further reactions come. It happens to someone, one in a million, and he is a happy man. Once he knows what it is, it is like a scent that is perfuming his whole life.

Why are we not awake to such moments much more often? Why do we not realise that our pursuit of drunkenness, God or an ideal is only the pursuit of our escape from facing the actual, and therefore reduces us to a state of dullness and insensitivity? It is because of various hindrances like conclusions, beliefs, trying to avoid death, worship of God and non-existence of affection. By being aware of these hindrances, they can be dissolved.

Is memory, psychological and not factual, a hindrance to understanding? Let us think this out. What is memory? Let us begin with ourselves and enquire into it without involving ourselves in explanations. Going back and looking into the past pleasures and pains, or going to the future with its hopes and ambitions, are forms of memory.

Why does the mind go backwards and forwards like this? In our attempt to understand the problem of memory, we have now found that mind which is itself a result of the past and is the current of the past, the present and the future, has separated itself in the present from the current, as though it is a separate entity; it looks on itself as the thinker, the feeler, the perceiver, goes back to the past and says "I remember". It also conceives of the future, thus giving rise to three entities - the thinker, the past, and the future - as through they are different from one another.

The problem now is "Can the mind separate itself from the past?" The thinker cannot go back to the past unless he is the product of the past; therefore, he and the past are one and not separate. So, when I say "I remember", I am making a false statement. Memory is ever continuing from the past, in the present, and into the future. The past includes my parents, my forefathers and also mankind with all their accumulations, traditions, superstitions, fears and conditions - social, economic, racial, religious, etc. Thus when we enquire what memory is, we should know who the enquirer is. The enquirer is the mind which has separated itself from itself which is the past; and this division is a false action, because any product of the mind must, like the mind itself, be also a product of the past. The observer and the observed are the same; therefore, the observer is making a false statement when it says "I am looking at the stream and going back to the past". We now see the absurdity of the whole process - the observer, though the same as the observed, imagines himself to be separate from, and superior to it, and attempts to examine the observed through memory; finally, he realises that he is not separate from the observed and the separation was false.

In seeing the false as false, Truth is perceived.

The Observer is the Observed

Madras, India. Group Discussion 27th 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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