What follows are excerpts by Jiddu Krishnamurti regarding Pure Observation: that is, observation without the accumulation of an ‘Observer’; without the one who criticizes, holds accounts and judges.
Questioner: How is one to empty the past?
Krishnamurti: You cannot. You empty the past totally when there is no observer. It is the observer who is creating the past; it is the observer who says, ‘I must do something about it in terms of time.’ This is most important. It is very important to understand, when you look at a tree, that there is the tree and there is also you, the observer, looking at it. You who are looking at it have knowledge about that tree. You know what species, what colour, what shape, what kind it is, whether it is good. You have knowledge of it, so you are looking at it as an observer who is full of knowledge about it, as you look at your wife or husband with the knowledge of the past, with all the hurts and all the pleasures. You are always looking with both the observer and the thing observed present, two different states. You never look at a tree; you are always looking with the knowledge of the tree. This is very simple. To look at another -wife, husband, friend- demands that you look with a fresh mind; otherwise you cannot see. If you look with the past, with pleasure, with pain, with anxiety, with what he or she has said to you, that remains; and with all that, through all that, you look. That is the observer. If you can look at a tree or a flower or another human being without the observer, a totally different action takes place.
Inner Life Exercise
Look!! Look without the observer.
“Questioner: You tell us to observe our actions in daily life but what is the entity that decides what to observe and when? Who decides if one should observe?
Krishnamurti: Do you decide to observe? Or do you merely observe? Do you decide and say, `I am going to observe and learn’? For then there is the question: `Who is deciding?’ Is it will that says, `I must’? And when it fails, it chastises itself further and says, `I must, must, must; in that there is conflict; therefore the state of mind that has decided to observe is not observation at all. You are walking down the road, somebody passes you by, you observe and you may say to yourself, `How ugly he is; how he smells; I wish he would not do this or that’. You are aware of your responses to that passer-by, you are aware that you are judging, condemning or justifying; you are observing. You do not say, `I must not judge, I must not justify’. In being aware of your responses, there is no decision at all. You see somebody who insulted you yesterday. Immediately all your hackles are up, you become nervous or anxious, you begin to dislike; be aware of your dislike, be aware of all that, do not `decide’ to be aware. Observe, and in that observation there is neither the `observer’ nor the `observed’ – there is only observation taking place. The `observer’ exists only when you accumulate in the observation; when you say, `He is my friend because he has flattered me’, or, `He is not my friend, because he has said something ugly about me, or something true which I do not like. That is accumulation through observation and that accumulation is the observer. When you observe without accumulation, then there is no judgement. You can do this all the time; in that observation naturally certain definite decisions are made, but the decisions are natural results, not decisions made by the observer who has accumulated.”