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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)

The Observer Is the Observed

Ojai, California. 4th Public Talk 1945

Can each one who is responsible for the conflict and misery in himself and so in the world allow his mind-heart to be dulled by erroneous philosophies and ideas? If you who have created this struggle and suffering do not change fundamentally, will systems, conferences, blue prints bring about order and good will? Is it not imperative that you transform yourself, for, what you are the world is? Your inward conflicts express themselves in outward disasters. Your problem is the world's problem and you alone can solve it, not another; you cannot leave it to others. The politician, the economist, the reformer, is like yourself an opportunist, a cunning deviser of plans; but our problem, this human conflict and misery, this empty existence which produces such agonizing disasters, needs more than cunning device, more than superficial reforms of the politician and the propagandist. It needs a radical change of the human mind and no one can bring about this transformation save yourself. For what you are your group, your society, your leader is. Without you the world is not; in you is the beginning and end of all things. No group, no leader can establish eternal value save yourself.

Catastrophes and misery come when temporary sensate values dominate over eternal value. The permanent, eternal value is not the result of belief; your belief in God does not mean that you are experiencing eternal value, the way of your life alone will show its reality. Oppression and exploitation, aggressiveness and economic ruthlessness inevitably follow when we have lost Reality. You have lost it when professing the love of God you condone and justify the murdering of your fellowman, when you justify mass murder in the name of peace and freedom. As long as you give supreme importance to sensory values there will be conflict, confusion and sorrow. Killing another can never be justified and we lose man's immense significance when sensate values remain predominant.

We will have misery and tribulation so long as religion is organized to be part of the State, the hand maiden of the State. It helps to condone organized force as policy of the State; and so encourages oppression, ignorance and intolerance. How then can religion allied with the State fulfil its only true function, that of revealing and maintaining eternal value? When Reality is lost and not sought after there is disunity and man will be against man. Confusion and misery cannot be banished by the forgetful process of time, by the comforting idea of evolution which only engenders slothfulness, smug acceptance and the continuous drift towards catastrophe; we must not let the course of our lives be directed by others,for others, or for the sake of the future. We are responsible for our life, not another; we are responsible for our conduct, not another; not another can transform us. Each one must discover and experience Reality and in that alone is there joy, serenity and highest wisdom.

How then can we come to this experience, through the change of outward circumstances or through transformation from within? Outer change implies the control of environment through legislation, through economic and social reform, through knowledge of facts and through fluctuating improvement, either violent or gradual. But does modification of the outer circumstances ever bring about fundamental inner transformation? Is not inner transformation first necessary to bring about an outward result? You may, through legislation, forbid ambition as ambition breeds ruthlessness, self-assertiveness, competition and conflict, but can ambition be rooted out from without? Will it not, suppressed in one way, assert itself in another? Does not the inner motive, private thought-feeling always determine the outer? To bring about an outward peaceful transformation should there not take place first a deep psychological change? Can the outer, however pleasant, bring about lasting contentment? The inner craving ever modifies the outer. Psychologically what you are your society, you State, your religion is; if you are lustful, envious, ignorant, then your environment is what you are. We create the world in which we live. To bring about a radical and peaceful change there must be voluntary and intelligent inner transformation; this psychological change is surely not to be brought about through compulsion and if it is, then there will be such inner conflict and confusion as will again precipitate society into disaster. The inner regeneration must be voluntary, intelligent, not compelled. We must first seek Reality and then only can there be peace and order about us.

When you approach the problem of existence from without there is at once the dual process set going; in duality there is endless conflict and such conflict only dulls the mind-heart. When you approach the problem of existence from within there is no division between the inner and the outer; the division ceases because the inner is the outer, the thinker and his thoughts are one, inseparable. But we falsely separate the thought from the thinker and so try to deal only with the part, to educate and modify the part, thereby hoping to transform the whole. The part ever becomes more and more divided and thus there is more and more conflict. So we must be concerned with the thinker from within and not with the modification of the part, his thought.

But unfortunately most of us are caught between the uncertainty of the outer and the uncertainty of the inner. It is this uncertainty that must be understood. It is the uncertainty of value that brings about conflict, confusion and sorrow and prevents our following a clear course of action either of the outer or of the inner. If we followed the outer with full awareness, perceiving its full significance, then such a course would inevitably lead to the inner, but unfortunately we get lost in the outer for we are not sufficiently pliable in our self-inquiry. As you examine sensory values by which our thoughts-feelings are dominated, and become aware of them without choice, you will perceive that the inner becomes clear. This discovery will bring freedom and creative joy. But this discovery and its experience cannot be made for you by another. Will your hunger be satisfied through watching another eat? Through your own self-awareness you must awaken to false values and so discover eternal value. There can be fundamental change within and without only when thought-feeling disentangles itself from those sensate values that cause conflict and sorrow.

Questioner: In truly great works of art, poetry, music there is expressed and conveyed something indescribable which seems to mirror Reality or Truth or God. Yet it is a fact that in their private lives most of those who created such works have never succeeded in extricating themselves from the vicious circle of conflict. How can it be explained that an individual who has not liberated himself is able to create something in which the conflict of the opposites is transcended? Or to put the question in reverse, don't you have to conclude that creativeness is born out of conflict?

Krishnamurti: Is conflict necessary for creativeness? What do we mean by conflict? We crave to be, positively or negatively. This constant craving breeds conflict. We consider this conflict inevitable, almost virtuous; we consider it essential for human growth.

What happens when you are in conflict? Through conflict mind-heart is made weary, dull, insensitive. Conflict strengthens self-protective capacities, conflict is the substance on which the self thrives. In its very nature the self is the cause of all conflict, and where the self is, creation is not.

Is conflict necessary for creative being? When do you feel that creative overpowering ecstasy? Only when all conflict has ceased, only when the self is absent, only when there is complete tranquillity. This stillness cannot take place when the mind-heart is agitated, when it is in conflict; this only strengthens the self-enclosing process. As most of us are in a state of constant struggle within ourselves, we rarely have such moments of high sensibility or stillness, and when they do occur they are accidental. So we try to recapture those accidental moments, and only further burden our mind-heart with the dead past.

Does not the poet, the artist, go through the same process that we do? Perhaps he may be more sensitive, more alert and so more vulnerable, open, but surely he, too, experiences creation in moments of self-abnegation, self-forgetfulness, in moments of complete stillness. This experience he tries to express in marble or in music; but does not conflict come into being in expressing the experience, in perfecting the word, and not at the moment of experience itself? Creation can only take place when the mind-heart is still, and not caught in the net of becoming. The open passivity to Reality is not the result of craving with its will and conflict.

Like us the artist has moments of stillness in which creation is experienced; then he puts it down in paint, in music, in form. His expression assumes great value for he has painted it, it is his work. Ambition, fame become important and in an endless, stupid struggle he is caught. He thus contributes to the world's misery, envy and bloodshed, passion and ill will. He gets lost in this struggle and the more he is lost the further recedes his sensibility, his vulnerability to truth. His worldly conflicts dim the joyous clarity even though his technical capacity helps him to carry on with his empty and hardening visions.

But we are not great artists, musicians or poets; we have no special gifts or talents; we have no release through marble, painting or through the garland of words. We are in conflict and sorrow but we, too, have occasional moments of the immensity of Truth. Then momentarily we forget ourselves but soon we are back into our daily turmoil, blunting and hardening our mind-heart. The mind-heart is never still; if it is, it is the silence of weariness, but such a state is not the silence of understanding, of wisdom. This creative, expectant emptiness is not brought about by will or by desire; it comes into being when conflict of the self ceases.

Conflict ceases only when there is complete revolution in value, not mere substitution. Through self-awareness alone can the mind-heart free itself from all values; this transcending of all values is not easy, it comes not with practice but with the deepening of awareness. It is not a gift, a talent of the few, but all who are strenuous and eager can experience creative Reality.

Questioner: The present is an unmitigated tragic horror. Why do you insist that in the present is the Eternal?

Krishnamurti: The present is conflict and sorrow, with an occasional flash of passing joy. The present weaves back and forth into the past and into the future, and so the present is restless. The present is the result of the past, our being is founded upon it. How can you understand the past save through its result, the present? You cannot dig into the past by any other instrument than the one you have, which is the present. The present is the doorway to the past and if you wish, to the future. What you are is the result of the past, of yesterday, and to understand yesterday you must begin with today. To understand yourself, you must begin with yourself as you are today.

Without comprehending the present which is rooted in the past, you will have no understanding. The present misery of man is understood when through the door of the present he is able to be aware of the causes that have produced it. You cannot brush aside the present in trying to understand the past but only through awareness of the present does the past begin to unfold itself. The present is tragic and bloody; surely not by denying it, not by justifying it will we understand it. We have to face it as it is and uncover the causes that have brought about the present. How you regard the present, how your mind is conditioned to it, will reveal the process of the past; if you are prejudiced, nationalistic, if you hate, what you are now will pervert your understanding of the past; your passion, ill will and ignorance, what you are now, will corrupt your understanding of the causes that have led to the present. In understanding yourself, as you are now, the roll of the past unfolds itself.

The present is of the highest importance; the present, however tragic and painful, is the only door to Reality. The future is the continuance of the past through the present; through understanding the present is the future transformed. The present is the only time for understanding for it extends into yesterday and into tomorrow. The present is the whole of time; in the seed of the present is the past and the future; the past is the present and the future is the present. The present is the Eternal, the Timeless. But we regard the present, the now, as a passage to the past or to the future; in the process of becoming, the present is a means to an end and thereby loses its immense significance. The becoming creates continuity, everlastingness, but it is not the Timeless, the Eternal. Craving to become weaves the pattern of time. Have you not experienced in moments of great ecstasy the cessation of time; there is no past, no future but an intense awareness, a timeless present? Having experienced such a state greed begins its activities and re-creates time, recalling, reviving, looking to the future for further experience, rearranging the pattern of time to capture the Timeless. Thus greed, the becoming, holds thought-feeling in the bondage of time.

So be aware of the present, however sorrowful or pleasant; then it will unfold itself as a time process and if thought-feeling can follow its subtle and devious ways and transcend them, then that very extensional awareness is the timeless present. Look only to the present, neither to the past nor to the future, for love is the present, the Timeless.

Questioner: You decry war and yet are you not supporting it?

Krishnamurti: Are we not all of us maintaining this terrible mass murder? We are responsible, each one, for war; war is an end result of our daily life; it is brought into being through our daily thought-feeling-action. What we are in our occupational, social, religious relationships, that we project; what we are the world is.

Unless we understand the primary and secondary issues involved in the responsibility for war, we shall be confused and unable to extricate ourselves from its disaster. We must know where to lay the emphasis and then only shall we understand the problem. The inevitable end of this society is war; it is geared to war, its industrialization leads to war; its values promote war. Whatever we do within its borders contributes to war. When we buy something, the tax goes towards war; the postage stamps help to support war. We cannot escape from war go where we will, especially now, as society is organized for total war. The most simple and harmless work contributes to war in one way or another. Whether we like it or not, by our very existence we are helping to maintain war. So what are we to do? We cannot withdraw to an island or to a primitive community, for the present culture is everywhere. So what can we do? Shall we refuse to support war by not paying taxes, not buying stamps? Is that the primary issue? If it is not, and if it is only the secondary, then do not let us be distracted by it.

Is not the primary issue much deeper, that of the cause of war itself? If we can understand the cause of war then the secondary issue can be approached from a different point of view altogether; if we do not understand, then we shall be lost in it. If we can free ourselves from the causes of war then perhaps the secondary problem may not arise at all.

So emphasis must be laid upon the discovery within oneself of the cause of war; this discovery must be made by each one and not by an organized group, for group activities tend to make for thoughtlessness, mere propaganda and slogan, which only breed further intolerance and strife. The cause must be self-discovered and thus each one through direct experience liberates himself from it.

If we consider deeply we are well aware of the causes of war: passion, ill will and ignorance; sensuality, worldliness and the craving for personal fame and continuity; greed, envy and ambition; nationalism with its separate sovereignties, economic frontiers, social divisions, racial prejudices and organized religion. Cannot each one be aware of his greed, ill will, ignorance, and so free himself from them? We hold to nationalism for it is an outlet to our cruel, criminal instincts; in the name of our country or ideology we can murder or liquidate with impunity, become heroes, and the more we kill our fellowmen the more honor we receive from our country.

Now is not liberation from the cause of conflict and sorrow the primary issue? If we do not lay emphasis upon this how will the solution of the secondary problems stop war? If we do not root out the causes of war in ourselves, of what value is it to tinker with the outward results of our inner state? We must, each one, dig deeply and clear away lust, ill will and ignorance; we must utterly abandon nationalism, racialism and those causes that breed enmity. We must concern ourselves wholly with that which is of primary importance and not be confused with secondary issues.

Questioner: You are very depressing. I seek inspiration to carry on. you do not cheer us with words of courage and hope. Is it wrong to seek inspiration?

Krishnamurti: Why do you want to be inspired? Is it not because in yourself you are empty, uncreative, lonely? You want to fill this loneliness, this aching void; you must have tried different ways of filling it and you hope to escape from it again by coming here. This process of covering up the arid loneliness is called inspiration. Inspiration then becomes a mere stimulation and as with all stimulation it soon brings its own boredom and insensitivity. So we go from one inspiration, stimulation, to another, each bringing its own disappointment and weariness; thus the mind-heart loses its pliability, its sensitivity; the inner capacity of tension is lost through this constant process of stretching and relaxing. Tension is necessary to discover but a tension that demands relaxation or a stimulation soon loses its capacity to renew itself, to be pliable, to be alert. This alert pliability cannot be induced from the outside; it comes when it is not dependent upon stimulation, upon inspiration.

Is not all stimulation similar in effect? Whether you take a drink or are stimulated by a picture or an idea, whether you go to a concert or to a religious ceremony, or work yourself up over an act however noble or ignoble, does not all this blunt the mind-heart? A righteous anger, which is an absurdity, however stimulating and inspiring it may be, makes for insensitivity; and is not the highest form of intelligence, sensitivity, receptivity, necessary to experience Reality? Stimulation breeds dependence and dependence whether worthy or unworthy causes fear. It is relatively unimportant how one is stimulated or inspired, whether through organized church or politics or through distraction for the result will be the same - insensitivity caused through fear and dependence.

Distractions become stimulations. Our society primarily encourages distraction, distraction in every form. Our thinking-feeling itself has become a process of wandering away from the centre, from Reality. So it is extremely difficult to withdraw from all distractions for we have become almost incapable of being choicelessly aware of what is. So conflict arises which further distracts our thought-feeling, and it is only through constant awareness that thought-feeling is able to extricate itself from the net of distractions.

Besides, who can give you cheer, courage and hope? If we rely on another, however great and noble, we are utterly lost for dependence breeds possessiveness in which there is endless struggle and pain. Cheer and happiness are not ends in themselves; they are, as courage and hope, incidents in the search of something that is an end in itself. It is this end that must be sought after patiently and diligently, and only through its discovery will our turmoil and pain cease. The journey towards its discovery lies through oneself; every other journey is a distraction leading to ignorance and illusion. The journey within oneself must be undertaken not for a result, not to solve conflict and sorrow; for the search itself is devotion, inspiration. Then the journeying itself is a revealing process, an experience which is constantly liberating and creative. Have you not noticed that inspiration comes when you are not seeking it? It comes when all expectation has ceased, when the mind-heart is still. What is sought after is self-created and so is not the Real.

Questioner: You say that life and death are one and the same thing. Please elaborate this startling statement.

Krishnamurti: We know birth and death, existence and non-existence; we are aware of this conflict between the opposites, the desire to live, to continue, and the fear of death, of noncontinuance. Our life is held in the pattern of becoming and non-becoming. We may have theories, beliefs and accordingly experience, but they are still within the field of duality, of birth and death.

We think-feel in terms of time, of living, of becoming, or of not becoming, or of death, or of extending this becoming beyond death. The pattern of our thought-feeling moves from the known to the known, from the past to the present, to the future; if there is fear of the future, it clings to the past or to the present. We are held in time and how can we, who think-feel in terms of time, experience the reality of Timelessness, in which life and death are one!

Have you not experienced in moments of great intensity the cessation of time? Such a cessation is generally forced upon one; it is accidental but depending upon our pleasure in it we desire to repeat the experience again. So we become once more prisoners of time. Is it not possible for the mind-heart to stop formulating, to be utterly still and not forced into stillness by an act of will? Will and determination are still self-continuation and so within the field of time. Does not the determination to be, the will to become, imply self-growth, time, which makes for the fear of death?

As the stump of a dead tree in the middle of a stream gathers the floating wreckage so we gather, we cling to our accumulation; thus we and the deathless stream of life are separate. We sit on the dead stump of our accumulation and consider life and death; we do not let go the ever accumulating process and be of the living waters. To be free from accumulation there must be deep self-knowledge, not the superficial knowledge of the few layers of our consciousness. The discovery and the experience of all the layers of consciousness is the beginning of true meditation. In the tranquillity of mind-heart is wisdom and Reality.

Reality is to be experienced, not speculated upon. This experience can only be when the mind-heart ceases to accumulate. Mind-heart does not cease to accumulate through denial or through determination, but only through self-awareness; through self-knowledge the cause of accumulation is discovered. It is experienced only when the conflict of the opposites ceases. Only right thinking, which comes with self-knowledge and right meditation, can bring about the unity of life and death. It is only by dying each day that there can be eternal renewal.

It is difficult to so die if you are in the process of becoming, if you are gathering, sitting on the stump of dead accumulation. You must abandon it, plunge into the ever living waters; you must die each day to the day's gathering, die both to the pleasant and the unpleasant. We cling to the pleasant and let the unpleasant go; so we strengthen in gratification and know death. Without seeking reward, let us abandon our gatherings and then only can there be the immortal. Then life is not opposed to death nor is death a darkening of life.