The man who wants to improve himself can never be aware, because improvement implies condemnation and the achievement of a result; whereas in awareness there is observation without condemnation, without denial or acceptance. That awareness begins with outward things, being aware, being in contact with objects, with nature. First, there is awareness of things about one, being sensitive to objects, to nature, then to people, which means relationship; then there is awareness of ideas. This awareness - being sensitive to things, to nature, to people, to ideas- is not made up of separate processes, but is one unitary process.
It is a constant observation of everything, of every thought and feeling and action as they arise within oneself. As awareness is not condemnatory, there is no accumulation. You condemn only when you have a standard, which means there is accumulation and therefore improvement of the self. Awareness is to understand the activities of the self, the 'I', in its relationship with people, with ideas, and with things.
That awareness is from moment to moment, and therefore it cannot be practiced. When you practice a thing, it becomes a habit, and awareness is not habit. A mind that is habitual is insensitive, a mind that is functioning within the groove of a particular action is dull, unpliable; whereas awareness demands constant pliability, alertness.
This is not difficult. It is what you actually do when you are interested in something, when you are interested in watching your child, your wife, your plants, the trees, the birds. You observe without condemnation, without identification; therefore in that observation there is complete communion: the observer and the observed are completely in communion. This actually takes place when you are deeply, profoundly interested in something.
Reading above is excerpted from 'Choiceless Awareness 1', where Jiddu Krishnamurti answers the question, "What is the difference between introspection and awareness?"
SEED QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How do you relate to notion that wanting improvement precludes awareness? Can you share a story of experiencing communion between the observer and the observed? How do you reconcile the practice of self-improvement with this author's criticism of it?
I could appreciate the article only when I read the context - "What is the difference between introspection and awareness?"
I saw few comments and am not sure if responding to them is acceptable or not. So just want to give an example. If you see a child crying, you could have 3 different feelings (i) if it is your child (or generally if you know the child) then sadness or worry (ii) if you don't know or are occupied otherwise, then indifference (iii) if there is a history behind or for some other reason there might be irritation.
Your feelings influence the way you see that child crying. However, there is a 4th way to look at the same incident - you experiencing the pain which forces tears to flow even though you are not crying at that moment. You are still experiencing feelings but this time there is communion between observer (you) and observed (child), which was missing in all the 3 cases above.
DO not think about what can happen in a month. Do not think what can happen in a year. Just focus on the 24 hrs in front of you and do what you can to get closer to where you want to be.
I'm in awe of the simplicity of this teaching. To improve oneself is to let the preconditioned mind be the judge of the quality of an experience or outcome. A state of living dominated by memory and anticipation. The present is merely a means to an end , a receipt for more suffering!
When I am fully present I become one with the experience. No separation between self and the experience!
I love the last part that being deeply interested in something you are in communion with it. And that this is not difficult. How wonderful to hear that. I have always had difficulty understanding what K. means when he says the observer is the observed. But here he says that in deep interest the observer and the observed are in complete communion and that gives me an understanding I did not have before.
This is hard for me to digest.
"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others" said the Mahatma. But to serve others means that we are trying to improve their situation. So clearly, we are making several judgment calls here in trying to improve others and improve ourselves.
What about seeking inner transformation (or external transformation)? Do we have to thru a phase of observation first? Or in practical terms, do and master vipassana (insert any other technique with similar goals(?!) here) and then step out?
My experience in -- doing what JK says -- "interested in watching your child, your wife, your plants, the trees, the birds" is different. Watching a child, i am trying to ensure they are protected (looking around for danger) and ensuring they have the richest experience (tweaking their environment). And learning from their actions and reactions too. And often times with condemnation/approval. I can't say i have been in communion with the observed -- bird or child.
My interest increases when i can interact, influence and be influenced. It reduces when i just watch, for example a group of rocks.
Sorry to disappoint JK and others.
I respectfully disagree with the author. Yes, I believe that a degree of awareness is required for one to pursue self improvement. However, instead of 'condemnation', I choose the word 'curiosity'. In my youth, my explorations were oft times motivated from a state of lack. Lack of money, lack of food, lack of female companionship and lack of purpose are but a few of my motivations. But as I matured, I realized that part of the human experience is feeling. To practice observation without emotions diminishes the Self. While allowing emotions to govern our decisions is potentially dangerous, so too is act of denying them.
"You condemn only when you have a standard, which means there is accumulation and therefore improvement of the self". You condemn only when you refuse to accept, in this case, refuse to accept the state where you are at the moment. How much have I been improved after so many years of striving for self-improvement? Have I ever got rid of that constant agitation, fear, insecurity, ready to re-act, ready to please...? comparing to that fearless younger self whom I once was, I am not sure what the years of self-improvement has been serving me... lol
I think what Krishnamurti is saying is that in wanting improvement, I am being judgmental, critical and condemning of myself or some aspect of myself which precludes awareness that is mindfulness. Awareness that is mindful is observing of my action in a way that is simply witnessing, and not judgmental or condemning. Change occurs with such nonjudgmental observing. Wanting improvement is being goal-directed, trying to steer and force a certain change, and mindfulness is witnessing which allows for change to happen. I think Buddha and Jesus were each being nonjudgmentally aware in dealing with temptations that they didn't condemn or attach to and did let go by. A personal example of experiencing communion between the observer and the observed has to do with my anxiety. I'm good at generating anxiety in myself. When I judge, criticize, and fight it, I get fixed on it and stuck in it and my goal directed efforts to get rid of it make it worse. To the extent I observe, accept, and allow myself in the moment, I am one with myself and am at ease, in which process self-improvement happens as a byproduct of my mindful awareness. Awareness allowing improvement is different than trying to make improvement, which difference reconciles the practice of self-improvement with the author's criticism of it.[Hide Full Comment]
J Krishnamurti is one of my great teachers who has been teaching me how to be in choiceless awareness. I felt it when I attended and mindfully listened to his talk on awareness. I am in awareness when I am fully present to what is happening in me physically, mentally and emotionally without reacting to the happenings in me. I mindfully, nonjudgmentally observe what is going on in me and around me. When a thought arises or shows up in my mind, I notice it without judging it, approaching or avoiding it. I let it come and let it go. I do not get stuck with it. In that free space an insightful understanding arises and it helps me grow.
I find the application of such mindfulness awareness in my relationship and in my daily actions and transactions with people in my life.
To me, it is an ongoing life journey bringing gifts to me and to others in my life.
I bow to such great teachers who have been teaching me the Art of living. Namaste.
Jagdish P Dave