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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)

The Observer Is the Observed

Madras, India. Group Discussion 4th November, 1947

To recognise exactly, to become aware of 'what is' is terribly difficult for most of us. There can be understanding only when there is effortless awareness which happens to every one of us at moments of real thinking. Environment is the past in conflict, in modification, or in conjunction with the present. To understand the present, some psychologists have asserted that we must go to the past; but to understand the past, you must begin with the present and observe the same without condemnation.

Understanding a problem undoes the problem directly and resolves it instantaneously without any postponement. For instance, if I feel that I am responsible for the marriage of my daughter, I can resolve that problem of marriage only when I understand all the implications in it. Understanding is a total responsibility of your entire being, a perception which comes to you of the entire picture and not of a part only.

Understanding cannot come through 'Will'. Will involves desire to achieve a result. In this is implied a practice, a continuity - i.e. a continued exercise, practice or discipline - to strengthen your will to become something. It is an accumulated memory which says that I must discipline myself to achieve or gain something; and accumulated memory is the multiplication of desires. Understanding is spontaneous. The grandeur of a marvellous scene impinges on your mind, and there is an immediate response without any exertion of desire on your part to look at it and enjoy it. When a mind is used in compulsory attitudes and actions, it gets worn out at the end of few years; it is made dull. When the mind is dull, it is unwilling to look at 'what is' but wants to change itself into something else, thus bringing another element into the problem.

We do not see things as they are either through fear of through a desire for security, or through expectation; because, if we see, we have to break them up; because immediate action implies danger to us, disturbs us and troubles us. When we are without love, we do not say "We are without love." - which is a fact and may perhaps lead us far when realised - but we say "We must be more kind" or "We must love," which is only a hope. When you feel sorrow you try to explain it away, to comfort yourself by going to the guru or by reading some scriptures. Similarly, joy comes to us unexpectedly; at the moment of joy we have done nothing; immediately when you have felt joy or when the joy is past, you wish to recapture it and it soon goes away. To recognise that you are without love, without sensitivity, demands extreme alertness. The recognition of 'what is' - i.e. to accept and see what you actually are - is in itself a transformation.