The Observer Makes Division

From Krishnamurti’s Booklet EIGHT CONVERSATIONS

Questioner: I have come to you to find out why there is a division, a separation, between oneself and everything else, even between one’s wife and children and oneself. Wherever one goes, one finds this separation – not only in oneself but in everyone else. People talk a great deal about unity and brotherhood but I wonder if it is ever possible to be really free of this division, this aching separation? I can pretend, intellectually, that there is no real separation; I can explain to myself the causes of these divisions – not only between man and man but between theories, theologies and governments – but I know, actually in myself, that there is this insoluble division, this wide gulf that separates me from another. I always feel I’m standing on this bank and that everybody else is on the other bank, and there are these deep waters between us. That’s my problem – why is there this gap of separation?

Krishnamurti: You have forgotten to mention the difference, the contradiction, the gap, between one thought and another, between one feeling and another, the contradiction between actions, the division between life and death, the endless corridor of opposites. After stating all this, our question is: why is there this division, this cleavage between what is and what has been or what should be? We are asking why man has lived in this dualistic state, why he has broken life into various fragments? Are we asking to find the cause or are we trying to go beyond the cause and the effect? Is it an analytical process or a perception, an understanding of a state of mind in which division no longer exists? To understand such a state of mind we must look at the beginning of thought. We must be aware of thought as it arises and must also be aware of that which it comes out of. Thought arises from the past. The past is thought. When we say we must be aware of thought as it arises, we mean we must be aware of the actual meaning of thought, not simply the fact that thinking is taking place. It is the meaning of thought which is the past. There is no thought without its meaning. A thought is like a thread in a piece of cloth. Most of us are unaware of the whole cloth, which is the whole mind, and are trying to control, or shape, or understand, the meaning of one thread, which is a thought. On what is the whole cloth of thoughts resting? Is it lying on any substance? If so, what is that substance? Is it lying on deeper thought or on nothing at all? And what is the material of this cloth?

Questioner: You are asking too many questions. None of this has ever occurred to me before, so I must go rather slowly.

Krishnamurti: Is thought the cause of all division, of all fragmentation in life? What is thought made of? What is the substance of those pieces of thread woven into that complex cloth we call the mind? Thought is matter, probably measurable. And it comes from the accumulated memory, which is matter, stored in the brain. Thought has its origin in the past, recent or remote. Can one be aware of thought as it arises out of the past – the recollections of the past, the action of the past? And can one be aware beyond the past, behind the wall of the past? This doesn’t mean still further back in time; it means the space that is not touched by time or memory. Until we discover this the mind cannot see itself in terms of anything other than thought, which is time. You cannot look at thought with thought, and you cannot look at time with time. So whatever thought does, or whatever it negates, is still within its own measurable boundaries. To answer all the questions we have put, we must put yet a further question: what is the thinker? Is the thinker separate from thought? Is the experiencer different from the thing he experiences? Is the observer different from the thing he observes? If the observer is different from the thing he observes, then there will always be division, separation, and therefore conflict. To go beyond this cleavage we must understand what the observer is. Obviously he makes this division. You who are observing make this division, whether it be between you and your wife, or the tree, or anything else. Now, what is this observer, or thinker, or experiencer? The observer is the living entity who is always moving, acting, who is aware of things, and aware of his own existence. This existence he is aware of is his relationship to things, to people and to ideas. This observer is the whole machinery of thought, he is also observation, he is also a nervous system and sensory perception. The observer is his name, his conditioning, and the relationship between that conditioning and life. All this is the observer. He is also his own idea of himself – an image again built from conditioning, from the past, from tradition. The observer thinks and acts. His action is always according to his image about himself and his image of the world. This action of the observer in relationship breeds division. This action is the only relationship we know. This action is not separate from the observer, it is the observer himself. It is the observer who talks about the world and himself in relationship, and fails to see that his relationship is his own action, therefore himself. So the cause of all the division is the action of the observer. The observer himself is the action which divides life into the thing observed and himself separate from it. Here is the basic cause of division, and hence conflict. The division in our lives is the structure of thought, which is the action of the observer who thinks himself separate. He further thinks of himself as the thinker, as something different from his thought. But there can be no thought without the thinker and no thinker without the thought. So the two are really one. He is also the experiencer and, again, he separates himself from the thing he experiences. The observer, the thinker, the experiencer, are not different from the observed, the thought, the experienced. This is not a verbal conclusion. If it is a conclusion then it is another thought which again makes the division between the conclusion and the action which is supposed to follow that conclusion. When the mind sees the reality of this, the division can no longer exist. This is the whole point of what we are saying. All conflict is this battle between the observer and the observed. This is the greatest thing to understand. Only now can we answer our questions; only now can we go beyond the wall of time and memory, which is thought, because only now has thought come to an end. It is only now that thought cannot breed division. Thought which can function to communicate, to act, to work, is another kind of thought which does not breed division in relationship. Righteousness is living without the separative action of the observer.

Questioner: What then, where then, is that thing on which the cloth of thought exists? Krishnamurti: It is that which is not the action of the observer. The realizing of this is great love. This realization is possible only when you understand that the observer himself is the observed: and that is meditation.