Observing without the ‘me’

I don’t know how you feel about what is happening in the world, in our environment, to our culture and society.

Published: 30th December 2021 06:58 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th December 2021 06:58 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU: I don’t know how you feel about what is happening in the world, in our environment, to our culture and society. It seems to me there is so much chaos, so much contradiction and so much strife and war, hatred and sorrow. And various leaders, both political and religious, try to find an answer either in some ideology, or in some belief, or in a cultivated faith. And none of these things seems to answer the problems. Our problems go on endlessly.

And if we could in these four talks in this tent and the two discussions that are to take place, if we could be serious enough to go into this question of how to bring about, not only in ourselves but in society, a revolution, not physical revolution because that only leads to tyranny and the heightened control of bureaucracy; if we could very deeply find out for ourselves what to do, not depending on any authority, including that of the speaker, or on a book, on a philosophy, on any structural behavioural pattern, but actually find out irrevocably, if one can, what to do about all this confusion, this strife, this extraordinary, contradictory, hypocritical life on leads.

To me it seems to be fairly clear that to observe there must be freedom, not only the outward phenomenon, but also to observe what is going on within ourselves, to observe without any prejudice, without taking any side, but to examine very closely, freely the whole process of our thinking and our activity, our pleasures, fears, and all the things that we have built around ourselves, not only outwardly but in ourselves as a form of resistance, compulsive demands, escapes, and so on. If we could do that consistently, with full intention, to discover for ourselves a way of living that is not contradictory, then perhaps these talks will be worthwhile; otherwise it will be another lecture, another entertainment, pleasurable or rather absurd, logical or illogical and so on. So if we could completely give ourselves to the examination, to observe intimately what is going on, both outwardly and inwardly.

Now the difficulty in this lies, it seems to me, in the capacity to observe, to see things as they are, not as we would like them to be, or what they should be, but actually what is going on. To so observe has its own discipline, not the discipline of imitation, or compulsion, or conformity but that very observation brings its own discipline, not imposed, not conforming to any particular pattern, which implies suppression, but to observe. After all when you do observe something very closely, or listen to somebody very fully, that very listening and seeing, in that is implied attention. And where there is attention there is discipline, without being disciplined.

If that is clear, the next point is, in observing there is always the observer. The observer who, with his prejudices, with his conditioning, with his fears and guilt and all the rest of it, he is the observer, the censor, and through his eyes he looks, and therefore he is really not looking at all, he is merely coming to conclusions based upon his past experiences and knowledge. The past experiences, conclusions and knowledge prevent actually seeing.

And when there is such an observer, what he observers is something different, or something which he has to conquer, or change and so on; whereas if the observer is the observed - I think this is really a radical thing to understand, really the most important thing to understand if we are going to discuss anything seriously: that in us there is this division, this contradiction, the observer and the many fragments which he observes. The many fragments make up the ‘me’, the ego, the personality, whatever you like to call it, the many fragments. And one of the fragments becomes the observer or the censor, and that fragment looks over the various other fragments. Please do this as we are talking, not agreeing or disagreeing but observe this fact that is going on within oneself; it becomes terribly interesting and rather fun if you go at it very, very seriously.

-Jiddu Krishnamurti


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