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J. Krishnamurti on Thinker and Thought (Extract from First Public Question & Answer Meeting in Ojai 17 May 1983)
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Following is an extract from 3rd Public Talk, Stockholm, 21st May 1956:
Questioner: I think it is rather important to know what we mean by seeing and watching. You have said that there is no motive or centre, but only a process. How can a process watch another process?
Krishnamurti: This is like a cross-examination! Surely you are not trying to trap me, and I am not trying to answer cleverly. What we are trying to do is to understand the problem, which is very complex; and one or two questions and responses are not going to solve it. But what we can do is to approach it from different directions and look at it as patiently as possible.
So the question is this: If there is only a process, and not a centre which observes the process, then how can a process observe itself? The process is active, moving, changing, all the time in motion; and how can that process watch itself if there is no centre? I hope the question is clear to you, otherwise what I am going to say will have no meaning.
If the whole of life is a movement, a flux, then how can it be watched unless there is a watcher? Now, we are conditioned to believe, and we feel we know, that there is a watcher as well as a movement, a process; so we think we are separate from the process. To most of us there is the thinker and the thought, the experiencer and the experience. For us that is so, we accept it as a matter of fact. But is it so? Is there a thinker, an observer, a watcher apart from thought, apart from thinking, apart from experience? Is there a thinker, a centre, without thought? If you remove thought, is there a centre? If you have no thought at all, no struggle, no urge to acquire, no effort to become something, is there a centre? Or is the centre created by thought, which feels itself to be insecure, impermanent, in a state of flux? If you observe, you will find that it is the thought process that has created the centre, which is still within the field of thinking. And is it possible -- this is the point -- to watch, to be aware of this process, without the watcher? Can the mind, which is the process, be aware of itself?
Please, this requires a great deal of insight, meditation and penetration, because most of us assume that there is a thinker apart from thinking. But if you go into it a little more closely, you will see that thought has created the thinker. The thinker who is directing, who is the centre, the judge, is the outcome of our thoughts. This is a fact, as you will see if you are really looking at it. Most people are conditioned to believe that the thinker is separate from thought, and they give to the thinker the quality of eternality; but that which is beyond time comes into being only when we understand the whole process of thinking.
Now, can the mind be aware of itself in action, in movement, without a centre? I think it can. It is possible when there is only an awareness of thinking, and not the thinker who is thinking. You know, it is quite an experience to realize that there is only thinking. And it is very difficult to experience that, because the thinker is habitually there, evaluating, judging, condemning, comparing, identifying. If the thinker ceases to identify, evaluate, judge, then there is only thinking, without the centre. What is the centre? The centre is the `me' -- the `me' that wants to be a great person, that has so many conclusions, fears, motives. From that centre we think; but that centre has been created by the reaction of thinking. So, can the mind be aware of thinking without the centre -- just observe it? You will find how extraordinarily difficult it is just to look at a flower without naming it, without comparing it with other flowers, without evaluating it out of like or dislike. Experiment with this and you will see how really difficult it is to observe something without bringing in all your prejudices, all your emotions and evaluations. But however difficult, you will find that the mind can be aware of itself without the centre watching the movement of the mind.