The Observer is the Observed
Madras, India. Group Discussion 25th April, 1948
We have been discussing about the importance of individual transformation as that alone would lead to a world revolution; about the importance of not thinking in terms of the mass as mass is really non- existent, or of not thinking in terms of a system as no system can lead to transformation; that transformation cannot take place through the thought-process as any thinking about the problem will only lead to further conditioning and resistance; that sentimentality, devotion and emotion are all in the field of thought which is the same as the field of sensation and will not lead to fundamental transformation. We also enquired what were the barriers to the recognition of the problem. We said that they might be: -(1) Repetitive experience which prevents direct relationship with the problem. To deal with a human problem we look to memory for help and this cannot lead to the solution of a problem. (2) The interpreter which is the memory acting on a problem. So long as there is the interpreter, the problem cannot be seen simply. (3) Looking for a result. This prevents a direct communion with the problem. The result, the end is always static, whereas the problem is not static. Therefore, when you look at a problem as a means of getting a result or leading to a result, you cannot understand the problem.
When these three screens are removed, mind is cleansed and is new. When the mind is thus transformed, the problem is directly seen and it is then no longer a problem at all.
Transformation cannot be brought about through time, through growth, through evolution, through a series of lives. There can be no inward revolution through a process of time. Immediate inward revolution is possible only through understanding. Therefore, the removal of the screens must come as an experience. It should not be a process of repetition, i.e., because others have said, etc. We can keep our mind fresh and new only by our own constant experiencing.
Is it possible to approach the problem of immediate transformation differently? Question: It has been asked by some why the process of the mind seems clear when you talk about it. I find the same thing happening to my mind; but, when I go home, my mind goes back into the old groove. Why is this? Again, I do not recognize for myself the existence of any ill- will or evil which recreates itself in the minds of others or causes chaos in society.
Krishnamurti: Surely, there is a repetitive evil which arises inside you, which projects itself into society as anti-social actions, etc.
Question: That may not have always something to do with strife. It may be often personal.
Krishnamurti: What is society?
Question: Gita says "How does it happen that human mind turns to evil rather than good".
Krishnamurti: I have not studied the Gita. Why is it easier to bring about co-operation between people through hatred, through greed, through evil? If there is to be any social reform, you cannot bring people together. Why is it easier to injure another, to be inconsiderate, rather than to be kind and generous? Have you not seen how when clothed in evil, good can be pursued more easily?
Question: An object of hatred makes for the binding of all those who also hate that object.
Krishnamurti: Is that the reason? Supposing you say that we can all join together and produce something which will be for the good of all of us. Will they join? Why do people more easily choose evil action than good action?
Question: Submission to authority.
Krishnamurti: Apart from authority, is there not anything else? A thoughtful man will not readily obey an authority in matters in which he does not agree.
Question: Because there is some prospect of getting something in the immediate future, people follow the evil rather than the good. Krishnamurti: Why do we choose the path that is evil more readily than good?
Question: Inherited savagery in our blood.
Krishnamurti: Greed is considered profitable though ultimately it is destructive. Society is the projection of the inward state of the individual in daily life. I know greed will ultimately lead to destruction, yet I pursue greed. Why? What you say is that the immediate is dictating and not the result. The ultimate is really the immediate. In any case, to separate yourself from society is not correct. If your relationship with society is based on some qualities, those qualities are bound to be impressed on the society with which you are in immediate relationship. Generally, whenever a thing gives you pleasure, you pursue it.
Question: I do not understand you, Sir. The pursuit of a certain quality which we do not name, is itself a result of conflict.
Krishnamurti: Surely not. The first movement is not the action of conflict. You pursue something, or go after something, in order to gain or to avoid. Your whole existence is based on an attempt either to gain or to avoid.
Question: Is insensitivity the result of an action to gain or to avoid?
Krishnamurti: Why insensitivity? Why are you insensitive to what you call good and sensitive to what you call evil?
Question: Because insensitivity takes beyond the ambit of pain.
Question: (2) If I get pleasure, can I make myself sensitive?
Krishnamurti: Why do I pursue quality? Is it because I am sensitive, or am lacking in clarity?
Question: To answer this correctly, you will have to study the whole history of mankind.
Krishnamurti: Yes. But will not this study of the whole history by yourself take infinite time? You are also likely to miss some chapters. So, it is not practical to say that "I shall answer when I know the whole of my past". There must be another method.
Question: Is it truer to say that the quality grips me, rather than that I follow the quality?
Question: (1) Am I different from the qualities?
Krishnamurti: True. Why does the self follow one quality in preference to another?
Question: When you follow anger, does anger give you pleasure?
Krishnamurti: Certainly, Sir, when you let off steam.
We either pursue for the sake of pleasure, to gain something, or for the sake of avoidance. All effort to pursue a quality depends on pleasure and avoidance. When you know that pleasure is going to bring ultimate destruction, why do you pursue it? Because you really do not know definitely for yourself that it is painful ultimately. Why do you not see that, in the course of pleasure, diseases and pains are involved and why do you not therefore immediately drop the pleasure?
Anger affects the body. Is anger a worthy means of cohesion of people, of society? Not at all. Yet, why are we angry? Do you know that anger acts as a barrier? If you know, why are you angry? When you know a certain thing is poison, you do not play with it and taste it. What is it that prevents you from knowing that anger is a poison; and why do you not leave it alone?
Question: Everyone of us has a tendency to manufacture some unnamed proclivity to evil. Why is it?
Krishnamurti: You know the bad effects of anger and yet why do you pursue anger?
Question: Because I don't know it is a poison.
Krishnamurti: Why do you not know? I am angry and I want to stop it immediately. How do I do it? Only when I can read the contents of anger with full attention, give anger my whole being and understanding. If you want to get a result, should you not give your whole mind and heart to it? A quality like anger is not recognized as poison till your whole being is given to the understanding of it, till you give your whole undivided attention to it.
Question: I understand anger only after I am angry and not while I am angry.
Krishnamurti: Anger is a response to a challenge. If I am not afraid of any danger and if I understand anger, then I shall not get angry.
You pursue certain qualities because you have not studied them, because you are not interested in being aware of them. If you
understand anger, you are transformed immediately. For instance, smoking is first a nausea to you. Then it becomes a habit and then a source of pleasure. When you understand this process and when you understand the nature of smoking, then, smoking falls away. If you relate the habit of smoking to other habits also, then, in understanding the habit of smoking fully, you understand also the nature of all habits and you will be transformed.
Thus, we pursue a quality because we have not gone into it deeply, or into ourselves deeply, in order to understand it. Mere liberation from a smoking habit does not lead to a chain of liberations from other habits unless you fully understand all the implications of habit as such. There is regeneration, if there is constant watchfulness. Regeneration is not an end-result but from moment to moment.
Why is it not possible to understand something which we call evil, completely so that it drops away? Obviously because we do not want to study the problem and all its implications. We require a lot of time. It means action in your way of living, which may lead to more and more trouble. As you do not want to be involved in any more trouble, you are not serious, earnest, about any of these things. You like to lead a superficial life, avoiding pain and seeking pleasure. You want to avoid pain merely because you like to live superficially. You are inwardly dull, insensitive to your problem. Sensitivity means constant ache and therefore you are insensitive.
War is evil and I want to avoid war. I want to understand and transform my own existence, to find out if, in me, there is violence and conflict - either between you and me, or in myself. Therefore, I must study the problem completely first in myself. I am always seeking a result and this leads to conflict. I see this and also that it is unproductive and does not lead to creativeness. I also see that this contradiction in myself really means lack of clarity of thought. Then, I see that I am not seeking clarity, but I want to understand contradiction. Then, when I do not seek anything but am merely observing closely in order to understand contradiction, contradiction ceases.
Love is not a quality, an emotion or sentiment. There is no quality of like and dislike in love. If you see a thing directly, it drops; and you cannot see a thing directly, if you want a result. To understand violence, you should have no screen such as the ideal of non-violence or the idealism of non-violence. To pursue an ideal is really an escape from dealing directly with violence. You can never understand anything through an ideal.
How do you understand sorrow? Not by escaping from sorrow, by seeking a remedy. If your intention is to understand sorrow, then you must watch, study every movement of thought, study every escape. Then, when you understand all this, your mind does not run away from sorrow. Giving explanations about sorrow does not mean understanding sorrow. When I completely understand all the escapes which are created by me in order to avoid sorrow or to arrive at certain results, then escapes drop away. When escapes have been cleansed from my mind, then only, my mind is face to face with sorrow.
In understanding sorrow, escapes arise. In probing into them, I find that when I grieve over the death of my son, I have really used my son as an escape from myself. Being afraid to discover what I am, I have been seeking fulfilment in my son. I escape from something which is myself and which is not known to me, from my emptiness, my insufficiency and my poverty. Because my son is not there, I am confronted with my poverty which causes me sorrow. Thus, I am face to face with my loneliness, my emptiness.
As long as you escape from 'what is', you will have sorrow, and you pursue all the escapes. When you understand and when you are not escaping, then you are experiencing your own true state of emptiness. In this state of experiencing, there is no experiencer or experience. After experiencing, you are aware of the experiencer having had an experience. As long as you are escaping from 'what is', there is always the experiencer frightened with what he is going to experience. Truth only can free you from escapes. When you realize that you are that thing which you actually are, there is no longer any escape. When you experience loneliness, in experiencing, loneliness drops away and there is no problem. Therefore, sorrow disappears when there is the experiencing of that emptiness. Any other form of resolving sorrow is an escape. Here is the key to the problem of sorrow. It is only in the state of experiencing when there is neither the experiencer nor the experience, that there is instantaneous transformation.
Question: Does not one get out of this state when he has once had it?
Krishnamurti: Why are you anxious about this? Experiencing is from moment to moment; there is also the prolonging of the interval. It is sufficient even if you have that state even for a split second. Wanting to be other than 'what is', is really an escape. If you understand 'what is' completely, then a miracle happens.
The Observer is the Observed
Madras, India. Group Discussion 25th April, 1948
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.