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The Observer is the Observed

Madras, India. Group Discussion 6th December, 1947

We have been discussing belief in relation to self-knowledge which is not understanding or the awareness of something higher, but being aware of every thought, feeling and action. To climb high, one has to go through the valley, through the turmoils, through the everyday thoughts and struggles and understand them. We are really reluctant to understand what is in the valley, the valley being our everyday existence.

How can we go far unless we understand what is near, the near being our relationship with ourselves and our neighbour, with family, etc. That relationship is an extraordinary self-revealing process. Because we do not want to go through that, we are escaping through belief, through ceremonies, and all other absurd and infantile things, giving them fanciful names without much significance.

It is very important to free the mind where it is, in your daily life, and to be aware of the words you use, the gestures, the attitudes, the motives, and the intentions. After all, what does it matter whether you believe in a Master or not, or what kind of ceremonies you perform? What does matter is what you are thinking, what you are doing.

A man who came to see me, wanted peace of mind. When I asked him what he was doing in his daily life, he said "That does not matter, I am only speculating". He is a speculator, dealing in money, bullion. How can such a man have peace of mind and how can he have God when he is hoarding, cheating, making people miserable by his actions? If at all he thinks he has peace, that will only be a deception, a self-deceit. To have peace, he must not speculate, he must not destroy others.

Similarly, those who wish to find Truth must free themselves from all bondages.

A man who believes is extraordinarily credulous, and therefore he is obstinate and therefore unpliable. A tree that weathers the storm, through it has deep roots, is pliable; but a tree which is still and not pliable, is broken down. In the same way, a man who is not pliable, who is credulous, who is obstinate, is broken down, and he is miserable. The central problem will be solved only when you understand the full significance of authority implied in a belief, i.e. why you want a guide, whether the guide is a Master or a priest, an experience, or a conviction and so on. This is the real issue which you are unwilling to face. If you can understand this, then, the infantile things like ceremonies will drop away; the systems, the whole economic and social snobberies will also disappear. Then, we will be creative human beings; we will have joy because every day is new, every minute there is an ending and therefore there is renewal. But to a man who is believing and seeks guidance, there is never a moment when there is an ending.

It will be a marvellous world when there is no preacher and the preached, when there is no teacher and the disciple. Then each person will be creative, each person will know the highest and live without craving for direction. After all, we seek guidance, either within or without, a Guru, an ideal, a memory - the memory being only the experience, the voice, the law, the Government, the Society, the Party, the Democratic or the Republican, the Socialist, the Communist, the desire to seek guidance from a book, the Marx's, the Bhagavad Gita and so on.

I do not know if you see the extraordinary width of it, the vastness of this desire to find guidance, from the school-teacher in a little village to the autocratic and tyrannical boss of the State, from the man who has wealth to the petty little secretary of a small organisation.

Someone says that as intelligence varies in individuals, the less intelligent require some guidance from those who are more intelligent than they. One may be dull and not be so well educated and cunning as another. But, where do the dull and the clever meet so that they can come together and discuss? To have a meeting-ground, we say we will have a common guidance - God, or a common Guru, or a common idea. Though the ideal may be common for both of us, what is our relationship between each other? Our conception of the common ideal is different, as one is dull of understanding and the other clever. Therefore, they do not meet. Similarly, there is no meeting ground between you who are full of beliefs, ceremonies and rituals, and I who am without them.

You say that you and I are both seeking God when you are anchored in your beliefs and therefore cannot go far? Any two people can meet when they love each other. The man who loves another - his wife, his children, his friends, etc. - will not talk about ideals and beliefs.

What has happened to all the recent revolutions? They started out to establish the ideal of equality. This ideal was soon lost sight of. In the end, the man who is in authority has more power and more money than the man who is down below working in the factory, and therefore, they never meet. The only place where they can meet is their hearts; but there is no love there. Love alone can establish equality between individuals.

Let us try and understand what guidance means and why you seek guidance. You are lost, you are confused, you are in turmoil, you do not know how to behave; you do not like that state and want to get out of it to clarity. Therefore, you approach somebody else for guidance, to seek direction. It is like a baby who seeks guidance from the mother or from the teacher because it does not know and it is curious to know the name of the bird or the name of the tree and so on. You look to that somebody to show you the way on conduct - economic, social, spiritual, physiological, biological, etc.

What is the relationship between you and me? You are aware that you are confused, confused in relationship, confused in ideas, confused in society which is already confused - religiously and psychologically - everywhere you are confused, everything is on the decline. So, you come and seek my guidance to get out from there, on all the different levels of consciousness. If this is correct, then, you have made me your guide. But, I refuse to be your guide; I say "Look at your confusion", which you refuse. Therefore, there is no relationship between us.

Guidance is a false relationship between any two, between God and yourself. To look at the confusion, you must free yourself from the idea of guidance. Before you can find out the meaning of confusion you must find out why you seek guidance. Because I refuse to be your guide, you will go to somebody else; I am not in competition with the other Gurus, but I want you to be free.

You seek guidance because you do not understand the confusion, the misery, the strife, the pain, etc; and you believe that somebody else will help you to understand; you go to him and expect him to resolve your confusion. Therefore, he becomes your guide. He tells you want to do. Gradually, your mind is filled with his ideas, his gestures, his words, etc. and he becomes all-important. Though you may say you have found the real Guru, the confusion is still there; only you have concentrated your attention on him, instead of on your confusion. Then, something happens and you feel lost again. You now say that your Guru is not such a nice Guru as you thought, and you go to another Guru. This is what has been happening for centuries.

Thus, in your everyday life, whenever you feel confused, you readily transfer your problem to another level - the Guru, the Book, the Leader, the Party, the System, the Idea. But, the problem of confusion is still there.

You are unwilling to face the problem and, being unwilling, you have sought an escape in somebody who will help you get out of the confusion. You have been practising for generations and generations to find a substitute to the problem. If you take a pill for indigestion and go on doing that, you depend on the pills and the pills become very important. Thus, your guides, the pills, have become important and not the problem. You started to clear the confusion and ended with the pills, escapes from confusion. So you have got now the confusion and the pill; and instead of dealing with one problem you have two problems now. So, you multiply the problems, instead of seeing the one problem, confusion.

When you are confronted with the two problems, the pill and the confusion, what is your response? the pill has become more important than the problem itself; and so, the problem remains and the pill remains! When you are confronted by this, when you understand how the pill is only an escape and does not help you in solving the problem, the pill gets away. You do not have to throw it away, or choose different kinds of pills. There is no question of choosing. There will only be choice when you do not understand the significance of the pill. The moment you understand, the moment you see something as false, it drops away.

Then there is only the problem left, and there is no question of turning to the problem. In discussing this, you found that pills are distractions from the problem. You wander from one manufacturer to another, one Guru to another, and so your going from Guru to Guru has become important, not the problem. You do not want to understand the problem, because you believe the pill is going to solve it. But the problem is still there. If you see the significance of of the pill, the pill is gone, and the problem remains.

Therefore, you must see the Truth in the false. The false are the pills, and the moment you see the truth of that, the false will drop away, and you do not have to see the latest pill.

When you realise that your beliefs and your guides are really escapes from the problem of your confusion, which still remains to be understood and solved, and that therefore they have no significance to you in regard to the solving of the problem, your guides drop away; and the problem of confusion alone confronts you, and you look at it whether it is painful, disagreeable or otherwise.

In this state, your mind is not distracted at all but quiet and passively alert in observing the problem without any effort whatsoever, i.e., your mind is fresh because it has seen the false as false; it cannot therefore translate or interpret the problem but sees it as it is. Thus, the problem though old has become new, because it has not been faced before but only now. A new mind faces a new problem without any translation or interpretation according to a pattern, and it is eager to know all about it and, therefore, loves it. Love transforms even the most ugly. Where there is love, there is instantaneous communication, confusion ceases, there is clarity; and the problem thus ceases to exist.

The Observer is the Observed

Madras, India. Group Discussion 6th December, 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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