In meditation there is no observer or the observed
Is there a way of living completely free from pressure?
6th Public Talk, Ojai, California
April 16, 1978
I believe this is the last talk.
As we were saying yesterday morning, we are concerned, if we are at all serious, with the wholeness of life, not a particular part, or a particular attitude, a particular conclusion, or philosophy, but rather to be concerned with all the action, with all the ways of life, which is the wholeness of life, of our living. And as this is the last talk, or conversation between us, I would also, if I may, go into the question of what is meditation.
Before we can really understand the nature of meditation we must find out for ourselves, I think, what is it that we are all seeking, searching, or longing, what is it we want. I think if one is at all serious, one begins to question the way of our living, why we live in such disordered confused, uncertain ways, why we accept conditions as they are, why the eternal wars, the division of people, the division that belief brings about, the division in religions, and so on. One must surely ask what it is that each one of us is seeking. Is it a personal search for more and more sensation, more and more excitement, more and more pleasure? Is it that we are so discontented, dissatisfied with the things around us and in us that we are seeking a way out of all this confusion, deep, abiding, flame of discontent?
As we said in our previous talks, if one may again point out, we are conversing together as two friends, neither one is trying to persuade the other to believe or not to believe. Two friends talking over together their life, their problems, their confusion, their utter lack of relationship and so on. So that's what we are doing together, so this is not a talk to which you listen, agree or disagree, and go away dissatisfied still more. But rather enquire into what it is that we are all seeking, and why we are seeking. Seeking what? Why is there this going from one faddism to another fad, to one religion, to one group, to one guru and so on and on and on? I think it is very important to understand this question, and to ask oneself, why and what we are seeking. And who is the seeker, and will the seeker find what he thinks he must have or must discover? Is the seeker projecting what he wants? Is the seeker saying to himself, I must do what I want? Because society is so confused, corrupt and immoral, and one feels, perhaps, that if one could fulfil what one deeply wants, and the fulfilment of that may be one's search.
And also if one is at all serious, one must, as we have asked throughout these talks, ask why we put up with various pressures in our life, on our brain, on ourselves, why we accept all the confusion, and why we accept the way we are living. I do not know if you have asked all these questions of yourself. If you have - I am not suggesting that you should, or that you must, but as two friends talking over together, each points out to the other, asks questions of each other, doubts what the other fellow is saying, so there is interaction between the two, there is a communication. And communication implies not only a verbal statement, but also sharing, sharing each other's problems, each other's troubles, trying to understand each other's misery, confusion. And that's what we are trying to do here during all these talks.
So, as we said, in enquiring what we are seeking, in perceiving the various forms of pressures, one comes to the point, doesn't one, that we know so little of ourselves, we never ask what we are, we never go into the great complex problem of knowing oneself completely - which is self-knowing. Can one know ever oneself? Or is it always elusive? Or does it take time to know the whole content of our consciousness, our existence?
So before we begin to talk over together - I mean together - meditation, we must begin I think with the enquiry whether it is possible to know oneself. Because if you don't know totally the whole content, the depth, the width of oneself, or the pettiness, the narrowness, the shallowness of oneself, without laying that foundation very, very deeply, which is the total comprehension of oneself in which there is no deception whatsoever, there is no illusion of any kind, no pretence, no sense of pride and arrogance - without knowing all that one cannot obviously lay the foundation to go much further.
So this morning, if one may, we are going to together enquire first what it is we are seeking, under what pressures we live, and in that enquiry we will begin to see the nature of ourselves, what we are, what we are made up of, not merely chemically, biologically, but much more psychologically. Because the nature of psychology, what is inwardly, inside the skin as it were, if that is not clearly understood and delved into very, very, very deeply, we will live a very superficial life, as most of us do.
So we are going to enquire what it is to know oneself entirely. Will you please join in this game - this is the real search - to know oneself completely. To know what actually is without any distortion, to be aware of the actual in ourselves, the actual, without any imposition, without any deforming what is there. You understand? So to understand this very complex thing called the self, and to understand it there must be obviously a very clear, free mind, mustn't there? If I am enquiring into something very seriously I can't come to it with a prejudice, with a conclusion, with any sense of achievement, I must first learn how to look - right? - and how to listen.
So first I must learn the art of listening to 'what is'. I don't know what I am, I am not going to accept any philosophy, or any assertions of the psychologists, however well-known, professional, all the rest of it, because if I do accept it I'll investigate myself according to what they have told me, which becomes another pressure, a boredom, an acceptance of authority, which one must totally discard if one begins to enquire deeply into oneself. I hope you are doing that as we are talking: that you are not looking through the eyes of another, not enquiring according to some psychologist, psychoanalyst, some philosopher. Which means that you mustn't be second-hand. Right? And most of us are second-hand people, or third-hand people, and therefore there is never any serious, deep delving into this enormous content of oneself. We live a superficial life because we accept the specialists about ourselves. And the specialists themselves have accepted the specialists of others; so it goes on, each specialist accepting another specialist. But whereas if we are enquiring into ourselves very seriously one must discard the authority of another totally, completely. Will you?
And also when one is enquiring into oneself, and the enquiry is to lay the foundation which will be totally orderly, which is not a foundation based on sand, on something unreal. You follow? And to enquire into this the mind itself must be free to observe. That is, to learn the art of listening to oneself, not tell what you want to observe, but to see or to listen what the self is saying. You understand? The art of listening to oneself, not according to anybody. Right? Will you do that as we go along? Then you have no authority to tell you what to think. We are educated from childhood what to think, and the teachers and the educators, the professionals and the politicians and so on, so on, so on, the priests, everybody, tells you what to think. It's so obvious, isn't it, specially in this country. It is happening all over the world but here it is becoming more and more acute, because the specialists are multiplying and we become their slaves. Please, this is very, very serious, I do not know if one realises how serious it is. Which means that one has lost freedom. When you hand over your life to another, however well -intentioned, however professional, however specialised he may be, to hand over yourself to somebody, to a guru, to a priest, to some psychologist, then that very freedom is denied, and you need freedom to enquire. I do not know if you realise what is happening in the world. Slowly we are becoming slaves to tyranny. Please, this is very serious - the political tyranny, the religious tyranny and so on, so on, which is the actual pressure on our life.
And to enquire into ourselves, if one has abandoned because you see the truth that authority about spiritual matters, or psychological matters, has no place in enquiry, then you drop them naturally, easily, happily - not with regret, not saying, 'I don't know if I drop these specialists, these people who have told me, how shall I enquire?' So we are going to enquire freely, not according to the speaker, not according to your desires, not according to what you think you want, but actually 'what is'. You understand? What is actually going on within oneself - the reactions, the compulsions, the pressures, the infinite varieties of desire, the exhausting anxiety, the arrogance, the pride, the sense of assertion, aggressiveness, you know, all that. To enquire into all that one must have the sense of freedom to observe. You understand? I hope you have it now, not only while you are sitting here, but when you leave this hall to have that extraordinary quality of freedom - not to do what you like, which you have done all along (laughter) - only you hide it under the cloak of religion, under morality, under culture, but freedom doesn't mean to do what you like. On the contrary. Freedom implies freedom from authority, freedom from pressure, freedom from your own demands, urges, wants, so that you are able to look very, very clearly at what is going on within yourself. Right? Will you do it as we sit here?
And there is the art of seeing, not through the eyes of another, not through the projection of your own desires, thoughts, but seeing actually what is going on. That's an art - art in the sense, not a painting, not a museum and all the rest of it, but the art of seeing which brings order. And order can only come when you put everything in its right place. Right? That's order, that is the essence of art - when you have put money, sex, knowledge, in its right place. And learning the art of seeing what actually is, without any distortion, without any motives, without any pressure. Will you do that, to observe yourself without the least pressure, which means not to achieve something, not to gain something, to become something? I wonder if you can do all this.
And there is the art of learning. For us learning implies accumulation of knowledge, memory, cultivating memory. School, college, university helps us to cultivate this memory, and to function according to the formula which memories have cultivated. But there is another form of learning, never accumulating but having insight into what is seen. Now this is rather difficult, I'll go into it perhaps, if I may.
We know what learning is, don't we, accumulating knowledge, and acting according to that knowledge, therefore learning and the accumulation of knowledge becomes mechanical. You get a job, and you act there skilfully or not skilfully, but you are learning, accumulating and acting. Now we are talking about learning in which there is not only not accumulating but seeing, having an insight into something which is not related to memory, because if you relate all action to memory, then it is incomplete, it is a fraction, it is broken up - because knowledge can never be complete, obviously. So what we are saying is there is an art of learning in which memory doesn't operate; you see things, you see the truth instantly. Now I'll show you an example - I am not good at examples but I will take it up and look at it. You can take your own example and look. To see instantly the total implication of institutions - religious, political, social - to see all the significance, the meaning, the nature of institutions. Which is, everything is lived, put into a formula, into a pattern, and you function within that pattern: the hierarchy, higher man, lower man, the whole of it. Or you take another instance, the institutions of religion: to see the nature of religion, to see what the priests and we have done to religion. Right? Which is seeing the truth of it, and when you see the truth of it you are finished with it. I don't know if you understand this. That is, it is based on belief, it is based on authority, it is based on conclusion, it is a projection of thought, that projection of thought in a church means thought is worshipping itself. I wonder if you understand all this. So you have an insight into it, not a conclusion, not brought about through argument, logic, but having an insight into the nature of what man has called religion, the whole thing of it, you can argue logically then. Having an insight, from insight you can argue, but not the other way round. The other way round is, the cultivation of memory, which is being conditioned. So insight implies freedom from conditioning. I wonder if you see all this. All right? May we go on?
So there is that art of learning, which is the insight into ourselves, and the things that we have projected outwardly. Right? So what we have projected, what we are inside, is the movement of thought. Right? So thought has created the outer and the inner, interacting all the time; therefore there is no outer and there is no inner. I wonder if you get this. There is only this movement, like the sea going out and then coming in, this constant movement, which is the 'me'. I wonder if you see this. Which is the self. And we are going to investigate into that. Right.
So in our investigation we are not cultivating memory. Please understand this. Look: I look at myself, and in looking at myself I have seen that I am this and I must be that. Just go with me for a little minute. I observe what I am and I say, I must not be that. In the very observation of myself I am accumulating memory about myself. Right? That memory will examine the next movement of the self. I wonder if you see that. Do you? So there is this constant learning, memorizing, and examining. The examination then is the continuation of that memory. I wonder if you see all this. It is fun if you see all this. It is real fun because you are then entering into something very, very deep, and tremendously subtle. That is, I examine myself - because I see it is not quite clear - I examine myself, that examination of myself leads me to a certain conclusion. Right? With that conclusion I examine the next movement of myself, the next reaction of myself. And so I strengthen the memory of myself. Right? Whereas if you have an insight you don't cultivate memory. I can't explain more. Is this somewhat clear? Am I making myself clear?
Krishnamurti: So that is what we are doing. We are going to examine ourselves, what we are. And it is also very important to find out how to observe.
If you observe according to somebody you are not observing, obviously. Right? Is this clear? Can we go on? If I observe according to Mr Freud, or Jung, or the latest psychoanalyst with their newest theories, I am just looking at myself with their glasses. Very simple. When I discard them totally then how do I look at myself? You understand? Am I looking at myself with fresh eyes, or am I looking at myself with memories which I have about myself? I wonder Can I look at myself each time as though it were the first time? The seeing oneself for the first time is insight. You get it now? So each insight is new, it is not a continuous insight, then it becomes a memory. Right, you are getting this? So insight implies no struggle, because it is so.
So what are we? Just look at it, I am not telling you what we are, you don't accept me instead of another guru (laughs) - I abominate all gurus, including myself if I am a guru. I am not. So how do I, how does one look at oneself? Is there an observer looking at oneself? You understand? Is there an observer looking at himself, at something, he says, 'I am going to look at myself'. You get the point? Please understand this. It may be a little boring, but go into it with me. Who is the observer? We said the observer is the past, all his conclusions, all his memories, all his experiences, all his failures, all that, and with those eyes he is observing - right? - himself. Is himself not the observer? You get the point? So the observer is observing himself, therefore there is no division between the observer and the observed. Get it? Right. So he is looking at himself. So if he is looking at himself, what is there to look? I wonder if you get this. Must go into it a little more, some of you have caught on to it, but the others have not, so I must go into it, if you don't mind.
We said the observer is the result of a million years of accumulated memories. That's logic, sane, that's a fact. And he says, I am going to look at myself. Which means he thinks he is different from what he is going to see. Please see this point. So I am going to examine myself who is different. Right? Then you have created the division, then in that division there is conflict, saying, 'I must do something about what I see, I don't like what I see, I must change what I see'. So there is conflict, suppression, all the rest of it follows. But when the observer says, I am examining myself, he is examining himself, not something outside there, or separate from himself. You have got it? Are you also working as hard as I am? You must, otherwise the ball is always in my court, and not in your court. If it is in my court there is no game. Right? (Laughter)
So the observer is examining itself. Right? You understand what is taking place? That is, he is seeing himself as he is, not as something to be observed. I wonder if you see this. You know it is like looking at yourself in the mirror when you shave, or comb your hair, or when you make up your face - there it is. In the same way, the observer is watching himself. Right? Then what takes place? Do it, please, find out. What takes place when the observer is watching himself? Isn't there - I am suggesting, I am not saying it is, or it is not, it's for you to look and find out - isn't there a sense of observation without the observer? Right? You understand? Which means there is neither the observer nor the observed. I wonder if you get this. This is very important because we are leading up to meditation. Have you got this? That is, when the observer is looking at itself, the observer is absolutely silent. No? When you look at something, unless you are very silent, quiet, you can't see. Right? You can't observe clearly. You may see a bird on a flight, or a tree, but if the observer is absolutely quiet you see what actually is, don't you? So there is only 'what is', not how to change 'what is'. You get it? And if you observe - no, if the observer is totally silent, then that which is, is non-existent because it is changing too. I wonder if you see this.
This is very important because meditation means, if I may go into it, I will go deeply further - meditation means that there is neither the observer nor the observed. Do you understand this? No, you don't. The observer is put together by thought. Right? The observed is also put together by thought. Anger is brought about by thought, reaction. And the observer who says, 'I am angry, I must do something about it' is also part of thought. Right? So thought has divided itself as the observer and the observed, and has brought about conflict between the two. So when there is this insight into the observer there is no conflict whatsoever. I wonder if you see that. Because meditation is the total elimination of complete conflict, no shadow of conflict. I wonder if you see this. I'll go into it a little later.
So the observer is not, only 'what is'. Right, do you see this? Only 'what is'. That is, one is the result of cultural, social, ethical, religious, spiritual, economic pressure, for a million years one is that. And that is actual. Without understanding the actual there is no move away from it. I can escape, but the escape becomes an illusion. You can take drugs and have an extraordinary experience through drugs, which destroys the mind, which destroys the quality and the sensitivity of the mind. Here in this country drugs are becoming such appalling things.
So in meditation there is no observer or the observed. Then what takes place in meditation when there is this total absence of conflict between the observer and the observed, and they both cease to be? We will go into that after we have understood a little bit of this.
So I am examining myself. I want to know myself because I see without knowing myself as I actually am, not according to anybody, actually what I am - my reactions, my miseries, my confusions, my loneliness, my despair, I have lost somebody, I am in agony and so on, so on - to know all that without the observer distorting it. Get it? Right? Can you do it? As you are sitting there listening, not to me, but to yourself, and observing without the observer, therefore - and learning, which means not memorizing, but learning the art of insight, can you observe yourself as you are. Then what you are is what actually is going on in every human being. You understand? I wonder if you see that. In every human being whether you live here or in Russia, or in India, or in China. Therefore what actually you are is the rest of humanity. You understand? I wonder if you get this. It is not a theory, it is not a conclusion, it is not a wish, it is not a strength, etc., etc., but what actually you are. You are the representative of all humanity. Right? See what the implications, and the depth and the beauty of it is. Then you are not alone. You understand? Now you are isolated, in isolation you are seeking strength. That strength is to depend on somebody, and dependence on somebody ultimately results in the weakening of your because in that there is sorrow, misery, confusion, jealousy, all the rest of it. Whereas the fact - the fact - that you, what you are, is what all human beings are, therefore you are all humanity. You understand, sir? And there is no individuality to play with, which is an enormous discovery, and therefore gives you extraordinary vitality.
So what are you? What you are is the movement of thought, whether it is in the church, whether in the temple, whether in the mosque, anywhere, it is the movement of thought projecting itself, saying, I am a Hindu, I am a Buddhist, I am a Christian, I am this and that - right? - which the other human being is doing exactly the same thing. So when you realise - when there is the insight into this there is a freedom from all the things that thought has put together psychologically. You understand? I wonder if you see this. Look, we will go into it a little more. Because otherwise if I go into meditation you won't see this thing.
Thought has put together the external world. Right? Thought has put together the churches, the temples, the mosques, the ideas of god, the devil, evil, thought has put together all this, and it has created also marvellous cathedrals, marvellous temples, mosques, the extraordinary advancement in technology. Thought has also created war. Thought has also created the 'me' and the 'you', the 'we' and 'they' - we are more important than they. So thought is responsible for this confusion, for this uncertainty, for this insecurity, the division, the misery, the confusion, the sorrow. Right? Have an insight into it, not a conclusion. Then thought has not created nature, the beauty of these hills. The hills are there but you can call them beautiful, but the word 'beauty' is thought, the feeling behind it is still thought, but thought has not created those excellent, marvellous, stupendous mountains. Right? Thought has not created nature, the birds, the trees, the rivers, but thought utilises them, and what thought has created out of them is a reality, like the chair. I wonder if you are getting this. I must move quickly, because my time is limited.
So, please follow this carefully - if you will, I am not urging you to follow it. So whatever thought has created, the actual, the figure in the church, in the temple, in the mosque, whatever thought has created is the actual, is the real, which includes also the illusions. Right? The illusion that you are somebody, or you must be somebody. And so thought in that illusion finds security, safety and so it clings to it. And from that illusion all neurotic action takes place. Whether it is fashionable neuroticism, or not fashionable neuroticism - it is fashionable neuroticism to belong to some group, some church, some temple and all the rest of it. I wonder if you see this. Right?
So thought has created all this. But thought, has it created love? All this is the enquiry into oneself, don't forget, please, you understand? I wonder if you see this. Thought has created the 'me' - my memories, my anxieties, my fears, my joys, my - oh, all the rest of it. That is the actual, the 'what is'. But has thought created love? Please, careful, this is really important because if thought has not created love, then why do we get so upset, so miserable, so confused, so antagonistic, so full of hatred, jealousy, when somebody says, 'I don't love you', when somebody leaves you and goes off with somebody else, or when there is the death of somebody? You understand all this? So if thought has not created love, then what is the relationship - please follow this - the relationship between love and compassion? You follow? Because one must find out all this, this is part of the self we are examining.
The word 'compassion' means passion for all, for all living things. If thought has not created love, which obviously it has not, when one really actually looks at it one gives the word 'love' its right meaning - you understand? - which has nothing to do with desire, pleasure, sex and - you follow? - all that, which is the result of thought. Then does the movement of love become compassion? You understand what I am saying? That is, compassion cannot exist when there is sorrow. Right? Because sorrow is the movement of thought. I wonder if you see all this!
Then there is a further question to ask - I am getting tired - there is a further question to ask: what is the relationship between compassion and, if there is, truth. You understand? We said thought has not created love. That's an absolute fact. Love is not desire, love is not pleasure, love has nothing whatsoever to do with fear or attachment. Then that thing that is not created by thought is reality. I wonder if you see this. That movement of the reality is compassion - right? - truth, sorry. I didn't mean that way. I must begin again. Forgive me, if I mislead you for a second. Thought has not created love, has not brought it into being - the love between a mother and child is inherited from the ape, a million years, and that you call love. Right? We are saying love is not the product of thought. Love is the movement of compassion. Then we have said reality - we know what reality is, everything, including illusion, is the product of thought, that is actual, real, like the microphone is real. Then, what is truth? You understand my question? Now the enquiry into that is meditation. You understand? The enquiry into that is not based on systems, practices; that is too mechanical, too absurd, totally the product of thought. Right?
So what is the quality of the mind that is not enquiring, allowing truth to appear? If I can use those words - you understand? - forgive me, they are ordinary words, but truth to take place, truth to be born, because I can't - thought cannot create it, then it becomes a fragment, broken up thing. So truth is something that must be whole - right? - not created by thought. So now how do we enquire into something that you don't know? You understand? You get the point? I have enquired into what is known - thought, all its movement, what it has created, the destruction and so on, it is known, we can look into it, but how do you look into something of which you know absolutely nothing? You understand my question? Now this is meditation. Because practice, following systems are all mechanical, too utterly stupid even to think about it, even to investigate because you can see what it is, including the transcendental meditation and all the nonsense the gurus have brought into this country. They are really racketeers. (Clapping) They are industrialised gurus making money.
So we are saying, what is the quality of the mind that says, I must find out what is truth? You understand? You can't enquire into something you don't know. Right? Just see the very statement of it is something extraordinary, if you realise it. It can only know what is unknown when the mind itself becomes the unknown. You understand this? Which is, there is neither the observer nor the observed. I wonder if you see this. This is the most marvellous - come on, sir! Look: I don't know you, because I have never met you, perhaps I have met you, and we shook hands, but like two ships passing in the night, make signals to each other and disappear in the darkness. I don't know you, so to know you I must come to you with complete not knowing. Is that possible? It is possible only when I've worked - you understand? - when there is the enquiry into the whole movement of thought. Thought can only function within the field of the known. The freedom from the field of the known is not that you have no knowledge and all the rest of that business, but now the mind is asking what is my quality when I know nothing. You can only say that in all humility and tremendous honesty when there is neither the observer nor the observed. Which means complete silence. Not the silence introduced by thought, not the silence between two noises, not the silence between two thoughts. You understand? Those are all parts of thought. To see that which is eternal, nameless, the truth, the mind must be absolutely still. And that stillness cannot be manufactured. Right? That's what you are all trying to do, to manufacture it through will, through practice, through all kinds of stupid things. Sorry, forgive me if I use the word 'stupid'.
So is it possible for the mind without effort, which means without will, to be absolutely still, without a single movement of thought? You understand? I said it is only possible when you have insight into all this. Insight is not memory, no relationship to memory. So the mind is now absolutely quiet, therefore no time. This is not a scientific fiction or anything of that kind. It is actual, and that demands tremendous honesty, without any sense of illusion. Right? Because you can create all kinds of illusions.
Then what is truth? Right? Can you describe it? The moment you put into words what is truth, it is not. The moment I say, 'I love you', the very words deny something tremendous. So that is the most sacred thing in life, not the things which thought has put together, they are just images, projected by thought. And those images you worship, and that means thought is worshipping itself. How foolish we are! But truth is indescribable. And that thing which is the most sacred can only be when the mind is absolutely quiet. This is meditation, from the beginning of this talk till now, that is meditation.