Jiddu Krishnamurti on Observation

Jidddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986) was an Indian philopher, who often spoke about the essential practice of observing without distortion.

Krishnamurti was raised in the spirituality of the Theosophical Society, broke away from it in 1929, in order to follow his own path as a spiritual practitioner and teacher, denouncing all teacher-follower relationsships and supporting for each person to find their own, unconditional freedom and inner truth for themselves.

In his meetings with Indian prime minister Nehru, Krishnamurti elaborated at length on the teachings, saying in one instance, “Understanding of the self only arises in relationship, in watching yourself in relationship to people, ideas, and things; to trees, the earth, and the world around you and within you. Relationship is the mirror in which the self is revealed. Without self-knowledge there is no basis for right thought and action.” Nehru asked, “How does one start?” to which Krishnamurti replied, “Begin where you are. Read every word, every phrase, every paragraph of the mind, as it operates through thought.”

As I understand this, Krishnamurti advises to practice mindfulness with the mind in that instance.

Looking on the Internet for “Krishnamurti observation” a number of related videos show up. I chose this one because I like his invitation to practice “observation with care” and to ask ourselves “Do I observe with care, right now?” This question helps us to understand in the moment, if we observe with judgment and therefore likely with distortion.

Observation without distortion | Krishnamurti
Observation without distortion | Krishnamurti


K: I am asking: “How do you then observe?”

Answer: “Feel it.”

K: No, observe. Observe the tent, observe the colour around you, the shirts and dresses around you – how do you observe it?

What is observation? You observe through the eye, don’t you?

Now, can you observe without moving the eye? If you move the eye, the whole operation of the brain comes into being.

I won’t go into this, because you’ll turn into some kind of mystical, nonsensical thing, mysterious and occult and all the rest of that.

Please there is something mysterious in the world, hidden things, which you cannot possibly find, unless you have laid the foundation of righteousness: to live correctly, truthfully, without conflict. Then you have all kinds of powers.

But if you start seeking powers of various kinds, then you are lost. You become somewhat neurotic.

So, can you observe – as you do with your eyes – to look without any distortion?

The moment there is distortion, the brain is in operation.

My golly. I’ve got lots of things about it. You won’t meet it.

You understand.

Now look at something without moving your eyes.

How still the brain becomes? Have you noticed it?

The moment you look all around, taking all that in …

(I won’t go into that.)

Anyhow. How do you observe all this?

You observe not only with your eyes. But you observe with all your care. If you are interested, you observe with care. Which means, you observe with affection: care means affection, right?



K: So, is there an observation of the fact – not the idea, but the fact – with care, with affection?

Is there an observation of violence with care and with affection?

Therefore, there’s no … Do you follow? Ah, you don’t see all this … It is so simple, once you capture this.

Attention implies care.

Begin with awareness.

Awareness implies care, affection.

So you approach ‘what is’ with care, with affection.

Therefore: where there is affection, there is no judgment. Right?

There is no condemnation.

Therefore you are you are free of the opposite.

I wonder if you get this.

Audience: So we have to love, very profoundly?

K: Ah, not we have to love. That’s not an action of will.

If there is to be an understanding of ‘what is’ – and ‘what is’ maybe violence, greed, brutality, cruelty or affection or joy – awareness implies great care in looking.

When you have a baby, the mother cares infinitely with affection. Gets up at two, three, four in the morning, half a dozen times, watching, watching, watching.

So, in the same way, where there is awareness, there is care, there is affection.

Can there be observation, awareness of violence – with care – to look at it with a great deal of care?

See all this operation, what is implied, how it affects humanity? You follow? The whole of it – what’s happening in the world, what’s happening inside – to look at it with infinite care and affection.

Then there is no duality.

The mother doesn’t say: “My baby is not so beautiful as that baby.” It’s her baby! Later on, she might wish it. So awareness implies, observing the fact – not the idea of the fact – but the fact of ‘what is’ and in that awareness, there is infinite care, watching, affection. You know?

Then there is no duality.

Duality exists because we don’t know what to do with ‘what is’.

When I know what to do with it, duality is non-existent.

When I know, for example, that I am greedy, I go into it very, very carefully.

Is it the word, that has incited the feeling? Or does the feeling exist without the word?

I must find out that first!

That is, I see the material of a shirt and there is a perception, contact, sensation, the desire to have it, and cut properly, put on. You follow? The image begins. So that is greed.

Now, is their greed without the object?

Another very fine introduction is this one.

The art of observation | Krishnamurti