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Observing the Observer

To observe the hidden, one has to have eyes that are not conditioned by the past. One must look at oneself as though for the first time, each time, and therefore never accumulate.
Public Talk 3 in Madras (Chennai), 13 January 1971

We don’t doubt that the observer is the observed because we can see in ourselves and others how perception is determined by the conditioning effect of experience. We are all conditioned by our experience, but if we don’t see our conditioning for what it is, we can’t see how the observer really is the observed. We can only see what our conditioning allows for because we are identified with our conditioning. In fact, we are our conditioning.

The conditioned mind is not free to experience what actually is because it is shaped by its formative experiences. It is a mind that is mired in the past by the unresolved conflict between its experience and the meaning it attributes to it; a mind that can’t see beyond appearance and can’t act without assurance. It is a mind conditioned to conform to whatever pattern of behavior serves its primary concern. If it is less interested in self-knowledge than in ambition and success, it is conditioned to be in conflict.

The mind that is more interested in self-knowledge than ambition and success abides more in the eternal present than in an imagined future, and is less conflicted because it is more attentive to what is actually happening than to what should be happening. It is learning about its conditioning instead of letting its conditioning determine its behavior.

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**Is this actually “Observing the Observer,” or expressing ideas about it? I’m interested in observing this with you, or anyone interested in observing the observer. But in all sincerity, this appears to be the expression of psychological viewpoints. I don’t see any ‘description’ of the nature of this “observer” that’s being observed. You talked about what it does or can’t do, but what is it? You talked about the mind not being interested, but what is the observer? What exactly is appearing in the observation? Then you talked about a mind that’s more interested in self-knowledge, which looks like a movement away from what is, a movement ‘away from observation’.
K offered some pointers to what he called “the observer,” as he did in this quote:

K: 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 ?

**So if there is an observation of the “observer,” what is observed is “psychological conclusions.” Conclusions like these:

“We don’t doubt that the observer is the observed because we can see in ourselves and others how perception is determined by the conditioning effect of experience.”

“We are all conditioned by our experience, but if we don’t see our conditioning for what it is, we can’t see how the observer really is the observed.”

“The conditioned mind is not free to experience what actually is because it is shaped by its formative experiences.”

“It is a mind conditioned to conform to whatever pattern of behavior serves its primary concern. If it is less interested in self-knowledge than in ambition and success, it is conditioned to be in conflict.”

**Aren’t all of these statements ‘past conclusions’? Aren’t these examples of what is observed in an observation of the nature of the “observer” thought structure? Assumptions in thought, all associated with the thought that these are “my views?”

Your conditioned response.

Aren’t all these statements past conclusions?

A statement that is not “a past conclusion” is a spontaneous exclamation. By the time one concludes that it should be written down and published online, it’s the past.

In what way is this assumption “spontaneous?”
Spontaneous: “performed or occurring as a result of a sudden inner impulse or inclination and without premeditation or external stimulus.”
You apparently created a new discussion, intentionally, and then made statements related to the topic. Is that spontaneous?
An inquiry, an observational inquiry, would involve looking together, and then describing what is being observed now, versus making a statement from memory. But where did you observe: “we don’t doubt”? Who are you seeing doing this doubting? Isn’t this an idea from memory, regardless of whether you said it spontaneously?

Then get together with others and demonstrate this instead of objecting to what someone has written.

Then get together with others and demonstrate this instead of objecting to what someone has written.

**I’m not ‘objecting’ to what is being written. Everyone is obviously free to write whatever they wish. I’m questioning, “Is this true?” Are we interested in observing ‘what thought is doing’, or simply accepting whatever pattern occurs? Isn’t it incoherent thought, the divisive conditioning, that is perpetuating the disorder? Is any statement that comes out of memory, the known, ever really “spontaneous?” Are we interested in looking at what’s happening in relationship, or defending beliefs and opinions? That’s a question, it’s not ‘objecting’ to what anyone may do or not do.

When you see something that’s always been there that you’ve never noticed or examined, it’s something new and significant because the spontaneity of the discovery changes the mind, the content of consciousness. To acknowledge the event and speak of its effect does not negate or diminish the fact that it happened.

Thought is principally trying to secure itself. It measures, it gauges itself in an effort to comprehend but its primary concern is its existence.

**Then it’s coming out of seeing, not thought, right?

**Where do you ‘observe’ thought “trying” to secure itself? Isn’t it a human being, an entity, that appears to “try” something? Is thought an entity that can “try” to do something?
Where are you seeing thought engaged in the action of “trying?”

Only when it personifies itself. If it doesn’t identify as a person, but as merely a mechanical process, it exists only in the eternal present.

Thought reviews its activity and its conclusions and corrects and revises itself. Forming a clear, coherent thought can be a matter of trial and error. For instance, sometimes spontaneous exclamations need to be explained.

What is it in the human being that tries if not self, and what is self comprised of if not thought? As for trying to secure itself, that is self evident in every human arrangement, be it social, political, religious, and it is the manifest failure of all that which constitutes the crisis that human consciousness is.

But are not present and eternal notions of time, and is it not the self which has pursued technical thought to the extent that it exists, and does not all of that play second fiddle to psychological thought, as part of its concern with its own security?

**Does thought, which is conceptual images, ideas, and concepts, ‘review itself’, or is it the brain that searches the collection of abstract concepts it has collected? Does an abstract idea have the capacity to review itself? Is a thought an entity with perception? How does a concept review itself?

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**Yes, the self/world imagery does appear to be made of a collection of psychological beliefs. But does a belief “try to do something,” or is it a conceptual idea? Isn’t it the conditioning, the thought patterns, that the brain reacts to? We hear some words, or thoughts, that seem to question some belief stored in memory as “truth.” And the ‘brain’, that contains a different stored belief, searches the collection of beliefs in the memory for a way to support the belief.
The thoughts are just stored opinions, they aren’t “trying” to do anything. The response to defend the belief comes out of the “programming” or “conditioning” that the brain uses to analyze what it interprets as a threat. But it’s a “reflex” of the conditioning. It “gives the appearance” of “thought trying,” but it’s actually the brain confusing the word for the thing, and reacting. We’re interested in directly observing, right? We’re not supposing, “What else could it be?” Right? And if we observe thought directly, we can see that it’s images, not an entity “trying” to do something. An opinion isn’t ‘trying’ to do anything, it’s just an opinion, words.

No. The eternal present, now, is all there actually is, but evidence, memory, and imagination show time is a continuum.

Thought can review, analyse, and correct its activity. It’s a function of the brain, not “a concept”. It’s called “cognition”.

Psychological thought tries to secure itself because it is fundamentally insecure, based as it is, on the illusion of being a person and not merely a mechanical process. Practical thought is insecure until it tests and proves or disproves its conclusions.

Psychological thought can never be secure because it is incoherent. But practical thought can secure the provisional accuracy or error of its findings via the scientific method.

**Yes, it’s a ‘function of the brain’, that ‘uses thought’, the stored knowledge, to analyze. It’s not thought, ‘abstract concepts’ that “perform that function.” The belief that thought, words & images, have the capacity to “think”, is what creates the illusion of a “separate thinker” in the imagination. The brain is conditioned, or programmed, with practical and psychological thought. It’s just “information,” “abstract impressions,” not an “analyzer” or “observer.” The brain is functioning like a computer, responding to the stored bits of abstract thought in memory. In essence the “brain is thinking,” ‘using’ thought. It’s not an I-thought that’s thinking, the brain is thinking. The I-thought is just one of millions of thoughts. Thought isn’t “thinking” or “analyzing.” It’s just limited abstract bits of information, “words & images,” that the brain is processing.

Thought is more than stored knowledge. It is the whole mechanism that applies and processes information and stored knowledge. At least this is what Krishnamurti meant by “thought”.

The ‘thinking process’ issues from the brain. It’s a ‘survival’ sense. It uses information gathered through experience, study, intuition, insights, theories, beliefs, guessing, speculation, etc. It presents the ‘thoughts’ in a universal form of ‘syntax’.Subject verb object i.e. It moves by association of relevant information to the subject at hand. Rigorous, logical thinking stays on the track, building to a conclusion not losing sight of its underlying subject. It concludes (not always correctly!)