The Observer Is the Observed
Bombay, India. Public Talk 1st February, 1948
So, as I am going to answer questions this evening, I hope you will follow them, not merely verbally or intellectually, because that has very little significance; but rather follow what is being said as though it were actually happening. Because, surely, the responsibility for any crisis does not lie with another - it lies with you and me as individuals; and to understand any crisis, like the present one which is localized in India, we ought to approach it very diligently, with intensity, with clarification, with the intention of going into it very fully and seeing all its significance, all its depths. As I said, I am going to answer questions this evening; and answers have little meaning if you are merely waiting for an answer; but if we analyze, think out the problem together - not merely you listening and I explaining - , if we go into it together, then perhaps that very thought process will create an understanding, a revelation.
Question: What are the real causes of Mahatma Gandhi's untimely death?
Krishnamurti: I wonder what your reaction was when you heard the news. What was your response? Were you concerned over it as a personal loss, or as an indication of the trend of world events? If it was felt merely as an identified personal loss, then we have to analyze that feeling very carefully, very intelligently, very purposefully; and if it was seen as an indication of the trend of events in the world crisis, this also has to be closely followed. So, we must find out how we approach this problem, whether as a personal loss, or as an indication of the whole catastrophe that is taking place in the world. Now, if it is an identified personal loss, then it has quite a different significance. There is in all of us the tendency to identify ourselves with something greater, whether it is a nation, a person, an idea, an image, a thought, or a superior consciousness; because, it is so much more satisfying to be identified with a group, with a nation, or with a person representing the nation - Hitler or Stalin on the one side, and Gandhiji on the other, and so on. So, there is identification with something greater; and when anything happens to that person, or to that idea, or to that group or nation, there is a shattering of that response. Aren't you feeling it, Sir? The desire to identify ourselves with something is obvious, is it not? Because, in oneself one is nothing, empty, shallow, petty; and by identifying oneself with a country, with a leader, with a group, one becomes something, one is something. In this very identification lies the danger; because, if you are aware of it, you will see that it leads to the most extraordinary barbarities in history, in our daily life. That is, if you identify yourself with a country, with a community, with a group of people, with an idea, with the communalistic spirit, then, surely, you are responsible for any calamity that happens; because, if you are merely an instrument which identifies itself with some cause or some person, then you are being used, and the calamity, the crisis, the catastrophe, is created by that very identification.
So, that is one side of the problem; and the question should be really, what are the contributory causes which I have created to bring about this incident, this misery, this catastrophe?'. Surely, that is the real question, is it not? Because, we are individually responsible for everything that is happening in the world at the present time. World events are not unrelated incidents: they are related. The real cause of Gandhiji's untimely death lies in you. The real cause is you. Because you are communalistic, you encourage the spirit of division through property, through caste, through ideology, through having different religions, sects, leaders. So, obviously, you are responsible, aren't you? And it is no good merely hanging one man - you have all contributed to that death. The question is, in what way have you contributed to it? I am purposely not including myself in it, because I am not a communalist, I am not Hindu or Indian, I am not nationalistic or internationalistic. Therefore, I am excluding myself from it, not because I am superior, but because I do not think in those terms at all - of belonging to one group or to one religion, of having property which is `mine'. I am deliberately, consciously excluding myself - please understand that it is not because I feel myself to be superior to others. Identification with a group, with a nation, with a community, with property, does lead to misery, does it not? Such identification obviously leads to murders, to disasters, to chaos, and you are responsible for it, because you do believe in Hinduism with its many different facets, which are all absurd. You are either a Hindu, a Parsee, a Buddhist, or a Mussulman - you know, the whole rot of identified division, isolation. So, since you have identified yourself with a group, you are responsible, aren't you? You are the real cause of this murder. I am not being dramatic, which would be too absurd; but that is the fact, is it not? So, the real cause is you - not some mysterious, unknown cause. When a so-called nation is made up of separate groups, each seeking power, position, authority, wealth, you are bound to produce, not one man's death, but thousands and millions of deaths - it is inevitable.
So, the fundamental issue really is whether human beings can exist in identified isolation; and history has shown over and over again that it is destruction to man. When you call yourself a Hindu, a Mussulman, a Parsee, or God knows what else, it is bound to produce conflict in the world. If you observe so-called religion, organized religion, you will see that it is essentially based on isolation, separatism: the Christian, the Hindu, the Mussulman, the Buddhist; and when you worship an image or no image, when you prevent somebody from going into your temples - as if reality lies in the temple! - , surely you are responsible for conflict and violence, aren't you? Please, I am not haranguing, I am not interested in convincing you; but we are both interested in finding the truth of the matter. So, this is not just a political harangue, which has no meaning at all. To find the truth, to see that we are responsible for what happens, we must think very closely, directly. When you have a religion to which you belong, an organized religion, that very fact creates conflict between man and man; and when belief becomes stronger than affection, stronger than love, when belief is more important than humanity and your whole make-up is one of belief - whether belief in God or in an ideology, in communalism or in nationalism - , obviously you are the very cause of destruction. I do not know if you feel the extra, ordinary importance of all this - or thinking it out very clearly and not hiding behind words. Then there is the obvious fact of division through property, through the sense of acquisitiveness. Property in itself has very little meaning: you can sleep in only one room, one bed; but the desire for position, the urge to acquire, to make yourself secure when everybody around you is insecure - surely, this sense of acquisitiveness, this sense of ownership, this sense of possession, is one of the causes of the appalling misery in the world. It is not that you must give up property, but let us be aware of its significance, of its meaning in action; and when one is aware of it, one naturally gives up all these things. It is not difficult to renounce, it is not a travail to give up property, when you see directly that your relationship with property leads to misery, not for one person, but for millions; and that you are fighting over property.
These are not just words, if you analyze them - property and belief really are the two chief causes of conflict. Property as a means of personal aggrandizement, property as a means of permanent self-continuity, gives you position, power, prestige. Without property you are nothing, obviously; therefore, property becomes extraordinarily important, for which you are prepared to kill, maim, destroy people. Similarly with organized religions and political ideologies, implying belief. Belief becomes very important - because, without belief, where are you? Without calling yourself by a communalistic, isolating name, where are you? You are lost, aren't you? So, because you feel the threat to yourself, you identify yourself with property, with belief, with ideologies, and so on, which inevitably breeds destruction. In how many different ways you try to isolate yourselves from others! This isolation is the real cause of conflict and violence. So, you are responsible, Sirs - and Ladies, with your beautiful saris and fashionable skirts.
This event has also a world significance. We justify and have accepted evil as a means to good. War is justified because we say it is going to bring us peace - which is obviously using a wrong means to produce a right end. But the trend of the world is in that direction; groups of people, whole nations, are preparing for the ultimate in destruction - as if they were going to be peaceful at the end of it. This event is really an indication, is it not?, of the tendency of human beings to sacrifice the present for the future. We are going to create a marvellous world, but in the meantime we are going to butcher you; we are going to liquidate you for the sake of the future. You don't matter; what matters is the idea, the future - whatever that may mean. After all, the future, whether to the left or to the right, is as uncertain to me as it is to you; the future is changeable, liable to be modified, and we are sacrificing the present for an unknown future. That is the greatest form of illusion, isn't it? But that is one of the tendencies of the world - and that is what is taking place now. That is, we have an ideological future for which human beings are sacrificed: to save man we are killing man. And we are caught in that - you are caught in that. You want future security, therefore you are destroying present security. Surely, understanding is only in the present and not in the future. Comprehension is now not tomorrow.
Now, these two extraordinary tendencies that are prevalent in the world at the present time, indicate, do they not?, an utter lack of love - not a mysterious love of the Supreme and all that rot, but ordinary love between two human beings. You know, one notices as one travels across the world an utter lack of the sense of love in human beings. There are plenty of sensations, sexual, intellectual, or environmental sensations, but actual affection for somebody, loving somebody with your whole being - that does not exist, for the obvious reason that you have cultivated intellect. You are marvellous at passing examinations, spinning out theories, speculating on the market, making money - which are all indications of the supremacy of the intellect. And when the intellect becomes supreme, you are bound to have disaster, because the heart is empty; so you fill it with words and the fabrications of the intellect. That is what one notices to an extraordinary extent in the world at the present time. Aren't you full of theories, either of the left or of the right, as to how to solve the problem of the world? But your heart is empty, isn't it? And surely the problem is very simple, if you actually look at it. As long as you are identified with property, with name, with caste, with a particular government, community, ideology, belief, you are bound to create destruction and misery in the world. So, it is you who are the real cause of his murder; it is you who have brought about this killing of man by man. You accept organized murder on a grand scale as a fair means during war, but when it is done to one person, you are horrified. Is it not true, Sir, that you as an individual have lost all sensitivity, all sense of real values and of the significance of existence? To understand this question, we have to transform ourselves radically, because that is what is needed to revolutionize absolutely our ways of thinking and feeling and acting. You want to bring about a revolution merely in action, which has no meaning at all; because without a revolution in you and in your feeling, you cannot produce a revolution in action; you cannot produce a revolution except individually. Since you are responsible, since you are the cause of this murder, and to prevent future murders, you yourself have to change radically, haven't you?, and not talk about gods and theories, karma and reincarnation; you have to be actually aware of what is taking place within yourself. And since it is extremely difficult and arduous to be aware, you spin out theories, you escape through property, through name and family, and all the rest of the absurdities which bring about destruction. So, since you are responsible for this murder, and for past and future murders, whether of one person or of millions, you have to change. You have to be transformed, not by beginning at a distance, but by beginning very close, by observing the ways of your thinking and feeling and acting every day. Surely, if you are interested, if you are serious-minded, that is the only way to bring about transformation, is it not? But if you are emotionally excited by events, if you have been drugged by political harangues during ever so many years, naturally you will feel little response. But, whether you like it or not, you are responsible for the miseries outside, because in yourself you are miserable, confused, anxious, without love.
Question: Is the third war inevitable?
Krishnamurti: There is no such thing as inevitability, is there? A country, being aware of its own weakness, of its own strength, can say, `No, we are not going to fight'. It is one of the tendencies of the left to push when there is not much pressure, and to yield when the pressure is too great; so you can always withdraw and wait and organize. There is no inevitability about war, but it looks very much like that because the issues involved are so vast. Ideologies are at war, the right and the left. There is the ideology which says that matter moves of itself, and the ideology which says that matter is moved, acted upon by the divine idea. On the one side there is the idea of God acting upon matter, and on the other, the idea that matter itself is in movement and producing outside circumstances, and that there- fore rigid control of environment is important. I am not discussing the ideologies, whether they are right or wrong. We will go into that question another Sunday. But, these two ideas are diametrically opposed - at least, they think they are opposed. And this brings up a very complex problem; whether the left is not based on the right, is not a continuation of the right; whether every opposite is not the continuation of its own opposite. But when two strong parties are each determined to have position, power, naturally it is going to destroy man, caught in between; and that is what is happening in this country, in your own family. When you dominate your wife or your husband, when you are possessive, when you cling to power in a small circle, aren't you contributing to world chaos? When belief in nationalism dominates you. When your country becomes of supreme importance - which is happening in every nation - , then is not a catastrophe of great destruction inevitable? Surely, Sir, the very existence of an army is an indication of war. It is the function of the general to prepare for war; and when you have developed a weapon like the atomic bomb, where are you going to experiment with it? So, again, war is directly related to us. If you are a nationalist, you are contributing to war. If you have enclosed yourself in property, you are contributing to war. If nationalism, communalism, if your own country or your own group becomes the most important thing, obviously you are contributing to war. Our very existence every day is producing war because we have no peace at all. Surely, if there is to be peace in the world, you yourself have to be peaceful. If I want to be peaceful with you, I must be adaptable, I must be considerate, I must not be dominating; but if neither you nor I are adaptable, if we insist on dominating it is bound to produce a catastrophe.
An American lady came to see me a couple of years ago, during the war. She said she lost her son in Italy, and that she had another son aged 16 whom she wanted to save; so, we discussed and talked the thing over. I suggested to her that, to save her son, she had to cease to be an American; she had to cease to be greedy, cease piling up wealth, seeking power, domination, and be morally simple - not merely simple in clothes, in outward things, but simple in her thoughts and feelings, in her relationships. She said, "That is too much. You are asking far too much. I cannot do it, because circumstances are too powerful for me to alter". Therefore, she was responsible for the destruction of her son. Circumstances can be controlled by us, because we have created the circumstances. Society is the product of relationship, of yours and mine together. If we change in our relationship, society changes; but merely to rely on legislation, on compulsion, for the transformation of outward society while remaining inwardly corrupt, while continuing inwardly to seek power, position, domination, is to destroy the outward, however carefully and scientifically built. That which is inward is always overcoming the outward.
So, again, Sir, the inevitability or the cessation of war depends upon us, upon you and me. Surely, we can change, can't we? We can transform ourselves - it is not difficult if we put our minds and hearts into it. But we are too sluggish, we leave it to the other fellow; we want easy ways, undisturbed thoughts, inward security. Desiring inward security, we seek it through outward things, through property, belief, temples, churches, mosques. When you seek inward security, you create insecurity. By the very desire to be psychologically secure, you create destruction. That is obvious - it is being repeated in history over and over again. Outward security is essential - food, clothing and shelter. But Man wants to be psychologically secure; so he uses food, clothing, shelter, and ideas, as a means of psychological security - and therefore brings destruction. So, it is again up to you and me to prevent what seems to be inevitable. Wars are inevitable as long as individual human beings are in conflict with each other, which is an indication that they are in conflict within themselves. We want transformation through legislation, through outward revolution, through systems, but yet we are inwardly untransformed. Inwardly we are disturbed, we are confused; and without bringing order, peace and happiness inwardly, we cannot have peace and happiness outwardly in the world.
Question: Can we realize on the spot the truth that you are speaking of, without any previous preparation?
Krishnamurti: What do you mean by truth? Do not let us use a word of which we do not know the meaning; but we can use a simpler word, a more direct word. Can you understand, can you comprehend a problem directly? That is what is implied, is it not? Can you understand what is immediately, now? Because, in understanding what is, you will understand the significance of truth; but to say that one must understand truth, has very little meaning. So, can you understand a problem directly, fully, and be free of it? That is what is implied in this question, is it not? Can you understand a crisis, a challenge, immediately, see its whole significance and be free of it. Because, what you understand leaves no mark; therefore, understanding, or truth, is the liberator. And can you be liberated now from a problem, from a challenge? Life is, is it not?, a series of challenges and responses; and if your response to a challenge is conditioned, limited, incomplete, then that challenge leaves its mark, its residue, which is further strengthened by another new challenge. So, there is constant residual memory, accumulations, scars; and with all these scars, you try to meet the new, and therefore you never meet the new. Therefore you never understand, there is never a liberation from any challenge. I hope I am making myself clear.
So, the problem, the question is, whether I can understand a challenge completely, directly, sense all its significance, all its perfume, its depth, its beauty and its ugliness, and so be free of it. Sir, challenge is always new, is it not? The problem is always new, is it not? The problem is always new - a question like this is always new. I do not know if you follow that. A problem which you had yesterday, for example, has undergone such modification that when you meet it today, it is already new. But you meet it with the old, because you meet it without transforming, modifying your own thoughts.
Let me put it in a different way. I met you yesterday. In the meantime, you have changed. You have undergone a modification, but I still have yesterday's picture of you. So, I meet you today with my picture of you, and therefore I do not understand you - I understand only the picture of you, which I acquired yesterday. Sir, if I want to understand you who are modified, changed, I must remove, I must be free of the picture of yesterday. That is, to understand a challenge, which is always new, I must also meet it anew, there must be no residue of yesterday; so, I must say adieu to yesterday. After all, what is life? It is something new all the time, is it not? It is something which is ever undergoing change, creating a new feeling. Today is never the same as yesterday, and that is the beauty of life. So, can I, can you, meet any problem anew? Can you, when you go home, meet your wife and your child anew, meet the challenge anew? You will not be able to do it if you are burdened with the memories of yester- day. Therefore, to understand the truth of a problem, of a relationship, you must come to it afresh - not with an `open mind', for that has no meaning. You must come to it without the scars of yesterday's memories - which means, as each challenge arises, be aware of all the responses of yesterday; and by being aware of yesterday's residue, memories, you will find that they drop away without struggle, and therefore your mind is fresh.
So, can one realize truth immediately, without preparation? I say yes - not out of some fancy of mine, not out of some illusion; but psychologically experiment with it, and you will see. Take any challenge, any small incident - don't wait for some great crisis - , and see how you respond to it. Be aware of it, of your responses, of your intentions, of your attitudes, and you will understand them, you will understand your background. I assure you, you can do it immediately if you give your whole attention to it. That is, if you are seeking the full meaning of your background, it yields its significance; and then you discover in one stroke the truth, the understanding of the problem. Surely, understanding comes into being from the now, the present, which is always timeless. Though it may be tomorrow, it is still the now; and merely to postpone, to prepare to receive that which is tomorrow, is to prevent yourself from understanding what is now. Surely, you can understand directly what is now, can't you? But to understand what is, you have to be undisturbed, undistracted, you have to give your mind and heart to it. It must be your sole interest at that moment, completely. Then what is gives you its full depth, its full meaning; and thereby you are free of that problem.
Sir, if you want to know the truth, the significance, the psychological significance of property, if you really want to understand it directly, now, how do you approach it? Surely, you must feel akin to the problem, you must not be afraid of it, you must not have any creed, any answer between yourself and the problem. Only when you are directly in relationship with the problem, then you will find the answer. But if you introduce an answer, if you judge, have a psychological disinclination, then you will postpone, you will prepare to understand tomorrow what is always there. Therefore you will never understand. So, to perceive truth needs no preparation; preparation implies time, and time is not the means of understanding truth. Time is continuity, and truth is timeless, it is non-continuous. Understanding is non-continuous, it is from moment to moment, unresidual.
I am afraid I am making it all very difficult, am I not? It is easy, simple to understand, if you will experiment with it; but if you go into a dream, meditate over it, it becomes very difficult. Surely, when there is no barrier between you and me, I understand you. If I am open to you, I understand you directly' - and to be open is not a matter of time. Will time make me open? Will preparation, system, discipline, make me open to you? No, sir. What will make me open to you is my intention to be open, I want to be open because I have nothing to hide, I am not afraid; therefore I am open, and therefore there is instant communion, there is truth. To receive truth, to know its beauty, to know its joy, there must be instant receptivity, unclouded by theories, fears and answers.
It is quarter past seven. Shall I go on? Yes?
Question: Does Gandhiji continue to exist today?
Krishnamurti: Do you really want to know? Yes? What is implied in this question? If he continues to live, then you also will continue to live; so, you want to know the truth of continuity. If I die, will I continue? Will I have a being, or will I be destroyed altogether? Now, Sirs, probably most of you believe in reincarnation, in continuity. Therefore, your belief is preventing you from finding the truth of this question. You understand? Here is a challenge. We are going to experiment with what I said in answer to the previous question. We are going to experiment, to find out the truth of this matter - directly, not tomorrow. To understand directly, you must put away your belief in reincarnation, mustn't you? You do not know, it is only a belief. Even though you may think you have proof of continuity, it is still in the field of thought. Mind can deceive itself and fabricate anything it wishes. So, we want to find the truth of this challenge, and to find the truth of it, we must come to it afresh, with a new mind; because, to understand now, not tomorrow, a new mind, a fresh mind, is necessary.
Now, in order to find the truth, I must discover what is preventing the mind from being fresh. I am not answering whether Gandhiji lives or not - we will come to that later. But to understand, there must be freshness. So, I am going to find out if my mind is clouded. As I am full of anxiety, full of hope, full of desire for continuity, I am obviously clouded; therefore, I cannot comprehend the new challenge, `Is there continuity?'. To understand it now, immediately, I must understand the various blockades that are preventing the mind from being fresh, new, so that it receives the new. Now, what is continuity? Are you interested in all this, Sirs, or are you merely listening? For the moment, forget that you are merely listening, and experiment with me as I go along, I am thinking aloud with you about this problem. It is your problem as well as mine - I am only giving expression to it. It is your problem, so follow it, experiment with it step by step.
Now, what is it that we call continuity? What is it that continues? It is either one of two things: Either it is a spiritual entity, and therefore beyond time, or it is merely memory, giving itself continuity through the residue of experience. Do you follow? Am I making myself clear? That is, if I am a spiritual entity, then I am timeless; therefore there is no continuity. Because, that which is spirituality, truth, godliness, is beyond time; therefore it is not the continuity we know of as tomorrow and the future. Do you follow? If what I am is a spiritual entity. it must be without continuity, it cannot progress, it cannot grow, it cannot become; but actually, what I am thinks that it must become, that is, I am thinking in terms of becoming. Therefore I am not a spiritual entity. Because, if I am a spiritual entity, I am not becoming; then death and life are one, then there is timelessness, there is eternity. But you are thinking in terms of becoming, therefore you are caught in time. Don't go to sleep over this - we are experimenting together.
So, if you are a spiritual entity, then you don't have to bother about it, then you don't have to find out if there is continuity or not. It is finished - there is deathlessness. But you are not that; you are afraid, and that is why you want to know if there is continuity. So, you are left with only one thing, which is memory. Do you follow, Sirs? You cannot quibble between the two. If you are a spiritual entity, then you are not concerned about death, about continuity, about time; because, that which is spiritual is eternal, timeless. But you are not in that state of being. You are in the state of becoming, in the state of continuing, wanting to know if there is continuity or not. This very question indicates that you are not in the other state of being - therefore we can leave it alone. So, what is it that continues? What is it that continues in your daily life? Obviously, not the spiritual entity. It is your memory identified with property, name, relationship and ideas, is it not? If you had no memory, property would have no meaning. If you had no memory of yesterday, property would have no meaning whatsoever, nor would relationship, nor would ideas. You are seeking continuity and establishing it through property, through family, through idea, which is the `I', and you want to know if the `I' continues. Now, when you talk of the `I', what is it? It is name, qualities, ideas, your bank account, your position, character, ideation - which is all memory, isn't it? Sir, I am not pushing you to accept anything. I am stating what actually is, not dealing with theories or speculations. We are experimenting to see if we can find the truth of the question and be liberated from the problem of continuity.
So, what causes continuity? Obviously, memory. How does memory come into being? Very simply: There is perception, contact, sensation, desire, and identification. I perceive a car, there is the perception of a car; then there is contact, then sensation, then the desire to own, and then it is `mine'. So, the-`I' is the residue of memory; however much it is divided, as the higher self, and the lower self, it is still within the field of memory - which is obvious, whether you accept it or not. When you think of God, it is still in the field of memory. When you talk of the higher self, when you talk about Brahman, it is still within the field of memory; and memory is incomplete understanding. That is, have you not noticed that when you understand a thing, it leaves no scar of memory? That is why love is not memory. Love is a state of being, it is not a continuity. It becomes continuity only when there is no love. So, there is no continuity if there is no memory. That is, thought identified must continue; but if there is no identification, there is no continuity, and memory is the very basis of identification. Through continuity, is there ever renewal? Do you understand? The `I' continues from memory to memory - the memory of my achievements, my faculties, my properties, my family, my ideation, my thoughts, and so on. All that is the `I', the self, whether a higher or a lower self. That is the `I'. Now, will that continuity ever bring a renewal, a rebirth, a freshness, a newness? Will continuity bring the understanding of truth? Surely not. That which continues has no renewal, has no freshness, no newness, because it is merely continuing in a modified form that which was yesterday. It is memory, and memory is not a process of renewal. There is no renewal through memory, through continuity - there is renewal only when there is an ending, there is freshness only when there is a death, when idea ceases. Then each day there is renewal, When `I' ceases to be each day, each minute, there is renewal. Where there is continuity, there is no renewal; and it is continuity that we are all craving. This question as to whether Gandhiji continues means really , `Do I continue?' - `I', identified with him. You will continue, obviously, as long as there is identification, because memory continues; but in that there is no renewal. Memory is time, and time is not the door to reality; through time, you can never come to the timeless. Therefore, there must be an ending, which means that in order to find the real there must be death every minute, death to your possessions, to your position, not to love. Obviously, there is continuity when thought is identified. But continuity can never lead to the real, because continuity is merely thought identified as the `I' which is memory; and there is renewal, rebirth, freshness, newness, a timeless state of being, only when there is a death, an ending, from moment to moment. Truth, reality, God, or what you will, does not come into being through the process of time. It comes into being only when time, when memory, ceases. When you as memory are absent, when you as memory function not, when that activity as the `I' ceases, then there is an ending. In that ending, there is renewal; and in that renewal there is reality.